Take a drive past the car dealerships in any Canadian city or town and you are guaranteed to see dozens of Lifesaver-coloured balloons tied to the financing signs and cars, bobbing and dancing in the breeze in their imperfect synchronicity.
Does this old attention-getting trick really work?
If every dealership does it, every day, in every town, can it continue to have any effect?
“People definitely see the balloons,” a salesman told me at the Hyundai dealership on Gorge Rd. “Our traffic goes up soon as the balloons go up.”
“And the kids love them.”
The kids love them? Why not have pony rides then?
It could be my advertising-wired brain, but if everybody is doing balloons to get attention, wouldn’t you do something different to separate yourself from the pack?
Then these critical questions:
> Would you investigate buying a $45,000 vehicle from a lot because you first noticed a 5-cent balloon?
> Do car dealerships sign a fair competition agreement with the other dealerships in town that bans the use of anything but balloons to promote the lot?
> Is there something at work here that I’m missing?
Every industry has its schtick. The furniture industry has the MONSTER MADNESS SALE themes; auto-body shops have the staff-as-spokespeople stumbling woodenly, in painfully awkward unity, through a call to action (“We’re your friendly muffler people. Come on down!”).
But this is the stuff lampooned on comedy shows.
Car salespeople know how to sell. Why the old carnival trick?