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Brand-led imagery drives affinity

Advertisements for cars can often struggle to differentiate the brand and attract attention. LANCE CLATWORTHY benchmarks two recent executions that had the same issue but demonstrated strengths in other areas of the creatives’ communication. Car sales continue to grow Australians bought 1.2 million new cars in 2016, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries…

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Advertisements for cars can often struggle to differentiate the brand and attract attention. LANCE CLATWORTHY benchmarks two recent executions that had the same issue but demonstrated strengths in other areas of the creatives’ communication.

Car sales continue to grow
Australians bought 1.2 million new cars in 2016, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI). Representing year on year growth of +2 per cent, this means there have been record new car sales in three out of the last four years. However, we should note that the growth is driven by a business sales increase of +13 per cent.

In this Creative Benchmarking study, we have tested advertisements for Hyundai and Volkswagen.

The verdict: Both struggled to stand out as different, but Hyundai grew brand affinity while Volkswagen delivered the financing message.


240205 Hyundai Enough said Stream 1

Advertising the Hyundai Tuscon and the Santa Fe models, the creative displays the two cars parked in a field with hills in the background.

With a lead slogan of “Enough said”, “Beautiful and powerful at surprising prices” is in a smaller font.

The Hyundai brand name seems understated on the top left hand side, while each model has an advertised starting price. We also see the offer of financing at 1%pa, a free roof mounted entertainment system and free servicing for 5 years.

In terms of a call to action, the reader is prompted to find the nearest dealer using the Hyundai website address which sits below the advert and alongside a telephone number to call as an alternative.

The small print details costs and finance terms.




Advertising the Volkswagen Polo and Golf models, the two models stand close together on a simple white background offset by a single shade of blue that holds the advert headlines “The 1% you can’t ignore” with the sub text “Offer extended. Must end January 31.”

Each model has a cost per week with the implication that a 1%pa finance deal is available.

The VW brand logo is displayed at the bottom right hand side while the call to action is an invite to test drive at your local dealer.

The small print details the aforementioned costs and finance arrangement. 

Strategic RoleMap

Six strategic advertising roles of newspapers have been validated both qualitatively and quantitatively by NewsMediaWorks, resulting in the creation of RoleMap. 



Hyundai scored well on brand affinity – 22 per cent agreed that the ad gave them a good feeling about the brand – this is significantly better than the benchmark average of 9 per cent for all newspaper advertisements. With a score of 13 per cent, Volkswagen performed closer to the norm.

Hyundai also encouraged readers to think differently about the brand, with 20 per cent agreeing compared with a norm of 8 per cent and 11 per cent achieved by Volkswagen.

“A confident and well made ad that really encourages me to rethink what my new car will be,” said one respondent on viewing the Hyundai ad.

Relative to Hyundai (19%), Volkswagen (27%) performed well on giving more information about the brand, but this was only in line with the benchmark (25%) and may have been a reflection of the information on the finance deal rather than the car.

Both ads performed broadly to benchmark on the other Strategic role metrics of giving a reason to buy/find out more, raising an important issue and reminding them of the TV advertising.



Newspapers are recognised as an effective medium for delivering a Call to Action. ActionMap, another proprietary newspaper metric, expands on this strategic role to provide an understanding of the types of action a newspaper ad inspires. 


Both ads performed in a similar fashion on action oriented metrics- they each outperformed the norm on 3 of the 8 metrics:-

  • Most significantly, Hyundai (13%) and Volkswagen (12%) both outperformed the norm of 3 per cent for “Tear out and keep the ad.”
  • Sharing the information online also performed well with 6 per cent agreeing in relation to both of the advertisements tested – this is against a benchmark of 2 per cent.
  • Hyundai (9%) and Volkswagen (5%) respondents also said they would make a phone call to find out more – this compares to a benchmark of 2 per cent.

Brand Perceptions


Again Hyundai stands out more than the Volkswagen ad when we look at brand affinity related metrics. Both ads outperformed the norm for each of the 4 metrics, but Hyundai scored best on an exciting car ad (28%), shows potential lifestyle (27%) and can see myself driving (25%). Hyundai (26%) and Volkswagen (30%) both performed similarly for “looks like a car to be proud of.”

“It is a good offer price for a car especially if bought on credit,” said one respondent of the Volkswagen ad.

The aforementioned comment acknowledges the importance of the finance offer as part of the advertising message, but another respondent didn’t really see it as a car ad at all:-

“The ad was about the finance deal – not the cars that the survey asked about.”

And another respondent further illustrates how Volkswagen’s emphasis on the finance aspect may have been at the expense of a branding message:-

“It doesn’t tell me anything about the car – how am I supposed to see value in the car, for the advertised price.”

Creative Diagnostics

This NewsMediaWorks’ proprietary newspaper metric, provides a set of creative diagnostics unique to the attributes of newspaper advertising.  They’ve been developed to help identify areas for improvement where results across other brand and advertising measures may require further analysis and interrogation.



The creative diagnostics do not emphatically indicate how Hyundai performed better than Volkswagen on brand affinity. Both ads scored well on “Great image” but Hyundai did perform better on “Looks good” at 38 per cent compared with an average newspaper ad benchmark of 20 per cent. However, with a score of 31 per cent, Volkswagen also performed significantly better than benchmark on this metric.

  • “Looks like a great car to drive,” one said of Hyundai.
  • “It displays the car at a higher angle making it look powerful on the road,” said another.

For “Headline made me want to stop and read more,” Hyundai (30%) and Volkswagen (28%) also performed significantly better than benchmark (17%).

Furthermore, the simplicity of the Volkswagen ad was illustrated by 46 per cent agreeing that the ad “Makes it easy to see what is on offer” compared to a benchmark of 32 per cent.

  • “A very clear message – 1% financing on VW Golf and Polo” commented one respondent.

On the negative side, 43 per cent agreed that Hyundai’s ad was similar to other car ads. Compared to a benchmark of 21 per cent, this represents an under performance for Hyundai. Volkswagen (31%) also failed to perform well on this metric, but not as significantly.

  • “Doesn’t stand out – just looks like any other car ad,” commented one regarding Hyundai.



Hyundai did struggle to stand out from other car ads, but was the better ad on the basis that its imagery built brand affinity. Both ads gave the message of 1%pa financing, but the appeal of the cars was more  of a focus for Hyundai. In terms of calls to action, the ad performed well for making a phone call, sharing information online and most significantly for  tearing out and keeping the ad.


Volkswagen did not build brand affinity, but did succeed in communicating the 1%pa finance option. Indeed, some respondents commented that this was more of a finance ad than a car ad. As such, this may be regarded as more of a call to action advertisement. It performed well in this respect but only as well as Hyundai which also built brand affinity.

Sources :- Record sales year for 2016 – Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries https://www.fcai.com.au/Sales/2016-new-car-market


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