SYDNEY: Auto brands in Australia must think beyond product features in favour of what their audiences are actually interested in to remain relevant, according to an agency creative director.

Frank Morabito, creative director for Melbourne full-service agency Spinach, believes that auto marketing in Australia has become bland and formulaic, and it’s time for marketers to think outside the box to engage a new generation of car buyers.

“We're still doing the same things we were doing 30 years ago,” he said at the Mumbrella Automotive Summit in Sydney. “We kind of do the same thing. We feature a car. We try and come up with a look and a line. It all looks pretty boring. Imagine if you could do something different and not show a car. Wow. Could you?”

The automotive category is both the largest and fastest growing category for media investment in Australia, yet Morabito believes most automotive brands presently put features before the interests of its audience, and that this needs to change.

(For more on the challenges of brand differentiation in the automotive category, read WARC’s exclusive report: 5 steps to leave boring automotive ads behind.)

“We’re all talking about us as an industry and us as car brands. No one’s really thinking about, ‘What the f*** does the audience really want?’ They’re not out there just waiting to absorb our wonderful creations,” he said, frankly.

With the average consumer bombarded with thousands of pieces of advertising collateral every day, marketers must accept that amid unprecedented change in the category – the shifting consumer landscape, autonomous cars and other technological advances, to start – they need to make the brand story more relevant to consumers before it’s too late.

“That change is pretty close, and we need to do something about it beyond just listing features,” Morabito said, adding that brands should think about relevancy, particularly when it comes to channels for media investment. “If you’re irrelevant to the audience, you’re actually invisible,” he said.

Sourced from WARC