Buick and RAM lead the pack as auto ads gain traction
July 15th, 2020, Graeme Bruce

Buick and RAM lead the pack as auto ads gain traction

Automotive marketers have been navigating a dark and narrow road over the past several months during the Covid-19 pandemic. They have been attempting, in earnest, to respond to lingering anxieties while still attracting customers. The end result has been soft sales. However, automakers are expressing optimism as many state economies open and summer marketing efforts are underway.

The question is: which brands are actually grabbing consumer attention? YouGov tracks ad awareness of thousands of brands every day, asking Americans “which of the following have you seen an advertisement for in the past two weeks?” The metric is delivered as a percentage.

Using this as an indicator, these five brands have seen the biggest jumps in brand awareness:


Buick saw the highest month-over-month hike in awareness, with 9.9 percent of Americans reporting seeing an ad for the automaker in the last month, a point increase of 2.9 compared to the previous period. It appears Buick has veered away from heart-string tugging and is focused on traditional messaging around the launch of its new Encore GX small SUV.


RAM trucks also saw a healthy increase in advertisement attention recently as it launched its “Miles to Make Up” spot, highlighting missed opportunities while the world was in lockdown without directly mentioning it. “We’ve all got some miles to make up,” the voiceover states, “miles to the job site, the campsite, and anything else we set our sights on.” The brand saw nearly a two-point increase in advertisement awareness.

Land Rover

In its latest TV spots for the Range Rover Sport and Discovery Sport, Land Rover leans on the physical capabilities of the vehicles without alluding to the pandemic or associated hardships. Land Rover saw nearly a two-point increase in advertisement awareness among Americans.


With its “Say Hello to the World Again” campaign, Mazda's attempts a subtle approach to the pandemic. In one of its national TV spots, the camera pans through an empty house – a blanket fort abandoned, homemade bread half sliced, an open laptop next to a half-finished puzzle – before a voiceover states, “it’s all still out there.” Month over month, the brand saw a 1.5-point increase in ad awareness among Americans.


Nissan marketing has been active in the last month. The brand put Brie Larson in the driver’s seat of its latest TV spots for its new Sentra model. Nissan also weighed in on the national conversation around race with a spot featuring “Black talent, whose innovation excites us today and into the future.” Nissan saw a 1.4-point month-over-month increase in its advertising awareness.

While these brands outperformed the rest, the awareness increases across the board are still fairly modest. YouGov data shows average Ad Awareness of the automaker sector as a whole is down by approximately three percent compared to this time in 2019. Automakers must learn new ways of speaking to the consumer during the pandemic in order to catch the attention of potential clients and get them into physical or virtual showrooms.

Image: Buick

The column first appeared on the The Drum