What’s with car dealerships and balloons?

17 Oct

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?

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10 Responses to “What’s with car dealerships and balloons?”

  1. Brian October 17, 2010 at 8:49 am #

    The medium is the message.

  2. dougbrowncreative October 17, 2010 at 9:53 am #

    Full of hot air? Inflated prices? 😉

  3. Steve Zussino October 17, 2010 at 6:35 pm #

    I always look at Sears on Blanshard st with their big inflated balloons.

    They have been doing that for ages.

    Always stick to what works.

  4. Amy October 18, 2010 at 6:07 am #

    Around here, apartment complexes also use balloons. All of them. I’ve never understood this phenomenon either. If I’m going to hand over first and last month’s rent plus a security deposit, you better have more than balloons to offer.

    • dougbrowncreative October 18, 2010 at 6:35 am #

      Ah but the balloons are just the sleight of hand to hook you into looking. A conjurer’s trick. Landlords and car salesmen. The new made-you-look players.

  5. maureen blaseckie October 19, 2010 at 10:38 am #

    I think the key is in your last line, “Car salespeople know how to sell”. It’s a lot like snipers, don’t need anything fancy, just wait till your target is in the sites.
    A long time ago in Edmonton there was a ford dealer who had the most annoying ads on tv. How annoying were they?, I hear you ask, so much so that people would drive over to the dealership and demand to see him just to tell him to stop or they’d shoot him. Yes, this is Edmonton so such threats are never to be taken lightly.

    And then he would sell them a car. I kid you not. The ads were deliberately awful just to bring people onto the lot. He had the highest sales figures for Edmonton and the province.

    Think Dodd’s furniture. Again, when he started the ads were considered an embarrassment to Victorians…people would go out of their way to walk into his furniture store just to complain and then walk out with satisfaction of giving that boob a piece of their mind plus getting a great deal on a lovely dining room suite.

    It’s not high tech at all, Doug. It’s pure salesmanship at it’s primitive best. I’m not saying I think it’s good advertising or marketing but, for better or worse, it does work often enough to keep using it. But, in both cases I cited, the ‘balloons’ were backed up by a salesman who could offer a deal worth staying on the lot to talk about.

  6. dougbrowncreative October 19, 2010 at 3:35 pm #

    It’s a good argument Moe, but I still wonder if “because it works” is enough reason not to try something different. It isn’t simply that a dealership is doing it, but that EVERY dealership is doing it. I find the conformity to the balloon peculiar.

    I’m glad you brought up Dodd’s furniture. He has neatly crossed over into the so-bad-it’s-good territory. He is one of the few business owners on the Island who can credibly be both Elvis AND the Incredible Hulk. At the same time if I’m not mistaken.

  7. dougbrowncreative October 20, 2010 at 3:36 pm #

    Brandy Saturley shares this coincidental link about car dealerships…and balloons. http://www.quickdeal.com/blog/?p=619

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Dealerships Marketing On A Blog – How Dealers Can Use Blogs - October 26, 2010

    […] the weather, marketing to consumers leaves us with stupid brand marketing that somehow works, and order up some new balloons because they sell […]

  2. Cheap views - October 25, 2011

    Cheap views…

    […]What’s with car dealerships and balloons? « We make it all better[…]…

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