Automakers Create a Buzz With Renewed Push On Electrified Vehicle Promotions and Advertisements

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Automakers are pulling out the stops to promote electrified green vehicles. Here’s a quick peek at all the crazy stuff they are up to.

Across the country, automakers are ramping up their promotions of electrified green vehicles. Despite a pretty common misconception by many EV fans, automakers have promoted, and continue to promote green vehicles, with gusto. One thing that makes the promotion of green vehicles unusual is the far-reaching and diverse efforts by automakers. BestRide dug deep to pull together a list of recent examples that illustrate the many ways your favorite brands are promoting green vehicles.

In the past, TV and radio spots were the defacto definition of “advertising.” That has changed for many reasons. Viewership is changing rapidly, and automakers have been moving gradually to a more direct and more hands-on approach to promoting vehicles in general. Social media and targeted browser advertisements have drastically changed the landscape for vehicle promotion, just as it has for all products, services, and causes. Measuring green vehicle promotion strictly by TV spots misses the true picture. If you aren’t convinced, that’s fine too. In 2016 Toyota advertised the world’s top-selling green car, the Prius, during the Superbowl. There is no more definitive TV spot than that.

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More and more, automakers want to offer shoppers and fans an experience. They want to engage a future customer, not shout at them in an annoying 15-second spot during a 3-minute commercial break on an old-school TV network. Experiential advertising takes many forms. We spoke with green vehicle enthusiast Jesse Rudavsky. Jesse is the perfect example of the type of influencer that automakers want to be engaged with. Jesse has logged over 1 million green miles as a ride-share driver. His current Prius is approaching 400K miles and he has been a regular at vehicle “meet-ups” sponsored by automakers, dealers, and local government groups. So much so, that he is now organizing them. “I hosted three National Drive Electric Week events back in September at the Cumberland RI library, Weston Mass. library, and West Boylston Mass. library.” Jesse is a guest blogger and reviewer at numerous websites and has a strong social media following. Jesse is also active in the The New England Electric Auto Association (which has been around since 1965). Every automaker’s dream is to have an (unpaid) army of folks like Jesse spreading the gospel by word of mouth.

Direct consumer engagement is being augmented via traditional media sources as well. BestRide’s writing team is active in two media groups. John Paul, who you know as the Car Doctor, is the President of the New England Motor Press (NEMPA) one of the country’s longest-running automotive media groups, and our Editor, Craig Fitzgerald is the prior President. The group gets together at a double-secret location in Middleboro Mass once per month. At each meeting, a manufacturer provides a detailed technical presentation and a small fleet of test vehicles for the membership to test and ask tough questions about. The last two meetings have both focused on EVs, The Smart EV from Mercedes and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Plug-In Hybrid-Electric vehicle). The idea here is to win the hearts and minds of the folks who bring you automotive news and other content.

We here on the coasts are target EV markets, but more and more automakers are looking beyond past stereotypes and past conquests to put EVs in the hands of influencers who specialize in muscle cars and other “non-green” vehicles.  Last year, Toyota arranged for one of the country’s best-known experts on Dodge muscle cars, Detroit resident Patrick Rall of Allpar and other outlets, to take a road trip in a Prius Eco. He drove it to a Guns and Roses concert, kept track of his mileage, and despite some “extra-legal” speeds still managed to beat the EPA’s estimated MPG rating.

Our own in-house road warrior is Nicole Wakelin. She’s a VP of NEMPA and travels to vehicle launch events, track days, and shows full-time. We contacted Nicole (who was on a plane at the time) and asked her if she has noticed the recent flurry of activity around green vehicles. Indeed she had. In just the past few weeks she had been invited to events in Vermont, California, and Massachusetts to test and report on electric vehicles. Nicole told us, “Automakers from Tesla to Nissan to Chevrolet are promoting their latest EV offerings. They’re using regional drives around the country to showcase how easy it is to live with EVs, rather than simply the fact that they’re efficient and save consumers money. It’s about encouraging people to consider the EV lifestyle.” How many EV events are happening for media folks right now? So many, they are conflicting with one another.

In its commercials, Honda has chosen to take an educational angle. Its spots help explain why range is no longer a concern for Clarity PHEV owners. But Honda likes to have fun too. In addition to its other promotions, Honda is also showing off its EVs and hybrids at events like NHL hockey games and upcoming Austin City Limits concerts. To get the full scope of how Honda is promoting its new Clarity, we reached out Chris Naughton (yes, the same Chris from our recent minibike image). He told us, “Honda launched Clarity with a major media campaign and continues to support Clarity with ongoing sustainment efforts. Clarity efforts include National Television, High Profile National Sports Television, Video On Demand/OTT (Hulu, Roku, FEP’s), Digital, Outdoor, Social Media, custom content integrations and print/magazines.”

Whether it is Tesla’s recent sales success with the Model 3, or an overdue push to the finish line to get EVs accepted by mainstream buyers, automakers seem to be pulling out all the stops to promote and advertise their green vehicle offerings. If we’ve left out any examples, please highlight them in the comments under this story.

Ironic image of Smart EVs charging under Mobile and Gulf signs courtesy of Josh Merva. EV meetup image courtesy of Jesse Rudavsky.