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Car Dealership Advertising Campaigns: 7 Ideas for Success

Attract and retain customers and deliver high advertising ROI with 7 car dealership ad campaign ideas from TEGNA. Read more.

Meredith Cunningham Published: December 18, 2023
Car Dealership Advertising Campaigns: 7 Ideas for Success image

It’s no secret that effective advertising campaigns are key to driving vehicle sales for car dealerships. The challenge is creating a winning strategy in a highly competitive market where consumer preferences constantly evolve. 

How can your dealership captivate audiences, foster engagement, sell more vehicles, and increase service appointments? We have a few ideas that can help. 

Let’s hit the gas and cover the basics. 

How Do You Advertise a Car Dealership? 

Navigating the intricacies of car dealership advertising requires a blend of research to understand consumer behavior, strategic thinking, creativity, and careful planning.

  1. Know Your Target Audience: Who is your target audience? Women? Men? Boomers? Millennials? Are they sports fans? Do they watch local news? Think about who benefits from your brand and identify if their demographics, attitudes, behaviors, and media consumption habits have changed since the last time you reviewed your customer persona profiles.
  2. Establish Goals & KPIs to Measure Success: What are your marketing goals? Is it to sell more electric vehicles, get folks to your dealership to take a test drive, or increase the number of servicing appointments? Regardless of the end game, it’s critical to identify measurable KPIs aligning with your brand goals. Then, after establishing measurable KPIs, use a measurement tool, such as TEGNA Attribution, to determine ROI from any ad campaign, and use the data (ad viewers and their actions after seeing your ad, such as visiting your website) to make optimizations and maximize campaign efficiency.
  3. Get Creative: Effective ads involve a combination of factors that appeal to the target audience, convey key messages, and differentiate the product. Consider adding the following elements that contribute to the success of car ad creative:
    •  Visual Appeal: Use high-quality visuals to focus on the vehicle’s unique and key features to showcase what sets the car apart from competitors. Additionally, ensure the ads align with the overall brand image, using consistent colors, logos, and messaging.
    • Emotional Storytelling: Evoke emotions, show how the vehicle fits into the target audience’s lifestyle, or use humor to make the ad memorable and distinguish it from competitors.
    • Encourage Action: Include a clear and compelling call-to-action, prompting viewers to visit a website, schedule a test drive, or visit a dealership. Create a sense of urgency by incorporating limited-time promotions or special deals.
  1. Media Planning: When developing a media plan, you will map out the who, what, when, where, why, and how your brand aims to connect with its target audience. Through thorough research and mapping of these elements, your integrated plan can ensure that campaigns reach the intended audience at optimal times, enhance frequency and reach, and optimize return on investment (ROI). You’ll also want to optimize the creative for various platforms, including social media, print, and digital, to maximize reach and engagement.
  1. Choosing a Media Partner: Depending on brand goals, dealerships, and automotive brands can benefit from national and local ad campaigns. With your brand goals in mind, consider choosing a media partner that can provide access to a wide, broad audience, target more niche audiences at scale, and display media nationwide at the local level—and on different platforms such as broadcast and streaming TV and digitally.

Car Dealership Advertising Channels 

Car dealerships can benefit from a diverse range of advertising channels to reach their target audience effectively. The success of each channel can vary based on the dealership’s specific goals, target demographic, and location. Here are some commonly successful advertising channels for car dealerships: 


Television remains a powerful medium for reaching a broad audience. With engaging visuals and effective storytelling, TV ads can leave a lasting impression, making them valuable for building brand awareness. We’re also seeing a rise in live event viewership on broadcast channels, such as big games like the Super Bowl and events like the Emmys. These are big opportunities to get your brand out there. Consider these avenues when creating your media plan and choosing your media partner. 


As streaming services continue to grow in entertainment consumption, advertising on streaming platforms can effectively reach audiences who have moved away from traditional television. Streaming also allows you to reach viewers nationally while also narrowing your targeting down to more specific demographics or behaviors – such as families that may be looking for minivans. 


Online advertising is a key component of your media plan in the digital age. Leveraging platforms like Google Ads, email marketing, and social media can help target specific demographics, track performance, and adapt strategies in real-time. These channels further complement your broadcast and streaming TV campaigns. 


Podcasts have gained popularity as a versatile advertising platform. Car dealerships can collaborate with relevant podcasts – such as sports or true crime – to reach a niche audience and auto-intenders. 

Combine the Power of Digital with Television 

Create a cohesive cross-channel advertising strategy combining digital efforts with broadcast and streaming TV commercials. This dual approach ensures comprehensive coverage across both online and offline audiences. 

7 Marketing Campaign Ideas for Your Car Dealership 

Whether you aim to boost customer loyalty, generate excitement for new releases, or leverage the power of social media, these campaign concepts offer versatile approaches to elevate your dealership’s marketing efforts and leave a lasting impression on current and prospective customers. 

1. Collaborations with Local Businesses for Cause Marketing 

Consumers crave a sense of community, and partnering with pillars in the community – such as the trusted voices at your local TV news station – can help create a halo effect for your brand and solidify your status as a community leader. For example, Trey Russell, General Manager of Sam Pack Five Star Ford in Carrollton, Texas, partnered with TEGNA’s WFAA to sponsor Little Wishes, a program dedicated to granting a ‘Little Wish’ to someone in need. 

“When we teamed up with WFAA on Little Wishes, the thought was, ‘How can we help the community?’” says Russell. “WFAA, TEGNA, and Sam Pack have the same values. We want to help the community. It’s not all about us just selling and servicing cars. It helps people in need who might be down on their luck a little, and if we just help them a little, they can stand back up and get going with their lives.”   

2. Educational Workshops and Webinars 

Not everyone is an automotive expert. That’s why Megan Del Pizzo, Vice President of Tom Bush Dealerships in Jacksonville, Florida, positions her dealerships as the experts for everything from maintenance and service to electric vehicles. This provides value to her audiences and establishes trust in the Tom Bush brand. 

“People will have a ton of questions about electric vehicles, and we want to make sure that we have the answers to those questions and help them. So we will continue with our message, ‘We have electric vehicles, and we are the electric vehicle experts.’ We’ve also spent a lot of time training our salespeople so that they can answer questions.” 


3. What Does the Audience Want to See? 

There’s a growing diversity in auto-intender consumer journeys. Simultaneously, these consumers share a common set of challenges that must be addressed. Knowing how to create messaging that shows your brand helping the audience overcome these challenges will help convert more shoppers into buyers.    

Utilizing the insights uncovered in TEGNA’s study,Unlocking the Car Buyer of Today,” Bill Dickason of Bill Dickason Chevrolet Buick in Texas says, “I wanted to get ahead of the curve and talk to my audience proactively. I looked at some of this information and applied it to my own dealership. I tweaked my messaging for my TV commercials and online to make my local messaging a little bit stronger.” 


4. Lifestyle Segments

Thirty-second ads might not be enough time to communicate everything that drives your dealership. Appearing on a Lifestyle show offers the chance to collaborate with local influencers – aka show hosts – and go more in-depth to educate and bring awareness to audiences on everything your brand offers. 

For example, GMC partnered with TEGNA’s Good Morning Texas to launch its Sierra Heavy Duty trucks in the metroplex with a caravan from downtown Dallas to the Fort Worth Stockyards. 


5. Event Sponsorships

According to Forbes, “70% of marketing professionals report that in-person events are their most effective marketing tool and list experiential marketing as one of their top event planning strategies.” Local event sponsorships are a great way to build brand awareness, align with loved local brands, and become a key player in the community.   

You can show gratitude for your existing customers with special appreciation events, offer discounts on services, organize contests or giveaways, host social media events, and provide exclusive offers to reward loyalty. This strategy enhances brand awareness and creates positive associations with the dealership. 

6. Test Drive Incentives 

Auto-intenders are leading the way to a digital transformation in buying cars. While many auto dealerships still want to increase foot traffic and get folks in the dealership’s door, you can encourage potential buyers to experience your vehicles firsthand by offering in-person shopping or test-drive incentives. This could include discounts, complimentary services, or exclusive offers for those who schedule and complete a test drive. 

7. Keep Creative Fresh 

Regularly updating ad creative is crucial for maintaining customer interest, adapting to market changes, and staying ahead of the competition in the automotive industry. It’s a strategic investment in the dealership’s brand image and marketing effectiveness. 

“I look at it from a consumer perspective,” says Mark Trimble, General Manager of Round Rock Toyota in Texas. “‘I don’t want to see the same commercial repeatedly. I’ve already learned your jingle. I don’t need to see it another hundred times. Please give me some new content.’ If people keep seeing ads in specific time slots or alongside specific content, we’ve got to give them some new product to see. It’s just that simple. It’s good to be there with a new look to get it back to the top of mind.” 

Build a Successful Car Dealership Advertising Campaign with TEGNA 

With broadcast TV, streaming, and digital advertising options available with TEGNA, you’ll have plenty of valuable ways to stay top of mind among your customers and prospects, make meaningful connections with those with purchase intent, and drive direct business results throughout the customer journey. Let’s hit the road running – contact us today to accelerate your tier 3automotive marketing strategy. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to advertise a car dealership?

The best approach is a comprehensive strategy that includes a mix of traditional and digital channels tailored to the dealership’s target audience.

How do you attract new clients to your car dealership?

Attract new clients by leveraging local media, collaborating with influencers, hosting events, and providing incentives for in-person visits.

How much do car dealerships spend on average on advertising?

Advertising budgets vary, but on average, car dealerships may allocate a significant portion of their budget to advertising, depending on the size of the dealership and its market.

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