Auto advertisements hurting sales

hansen mug

By Steve Hansen

Former QCS Managing Editor

The process of selling a house, most families’ largest investment, is all seriousness and dignity.

But local selling for a family’s second-largest investment, the car, gets no dignity or seriousness, or, in my humble opinion, intelligence.

It seems to be a common delusion among new-car dealers that they have great advertising minds, but nothing makes me want to buy a car less than “Get a Jeep, Get a Jeep, get it cheap, cheap, cheap.”

There may have been lots of knee-slapping, hand-shaking, and “booyahs” when the clever folks at Mark’s Casa Jeep in Albuquerque came up with that one, but to me, it sounds like a great example of the perils of “group-think.”

“Get a Jeep, get it cheap” gets you thinking that the Jeep, too, must be cheap, as in low-quality.

Melloy Dodge’s owners in Albuquerque seem to think that bad basketball puns will sell cars during March Madness, the time of basketball tournaments.

I don’t see the link between a car purchase and some guy in referee costume calling “technical foul!” referring to competitors’ prices.

“Nothing but net!” he says in self-congratulation.

For what? Missing the mark?

Oh, is he selling cars?

This malady seems to be universal among car dealers.

Los Angeles local news was long marred by “Cal Worthington and his dog, Spot!” ads in which the dealer would ride in on a rhinoceros, an ostrich or other strange beast to launch his spiels.

I also cringe at the memories of Mariano Rotolo, another Los Angeles car dealer, who in his 80s still thought he could sing.

Real advertising sloganeers digest volumes of data that define audiences in terms of age, income, lifestyle, family status, preferences and tastes.

Then, and only then, do they get clever — in context.

Local car dealers should take lessons from their national brands’ advertising, like the Subaru ads featuring dogs (and aimed at dog owners), or the Dodge Ram ads with the classic cowboy voice of Sam Elliott.

Local dealers spend considerable sums to buy time, but they should spend a little more to get it done right.

They’d sell more cars, I bet, and their ads would be way less obnoxious.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:

Speak Your Mind