When Strong, creative director Dennis Johnson proposed the idea of cost-cutting for a local Honda dealership – by putting the dealer’s two sons, Ben & Patrick Brannon, on TV as spokespeople, my first reaction was, “Yeah, right.” One of the hardest things to do in automotive advertising is launch a successful on-camera talent campaign. Maybe working with a few “bad” dealers in recent years has left a bad taste in my mouth – you know the type, the dealer who listens to his wife complain that he looks better in his black suit, not the blue one – or his hair looks grey in this month’s commercial… (Anyone who has ever shot on camera talent knows what I am talking about.)
After listening to Dennis for about 10 minutes and watching a video of Ben and Patrick that was shot with syndicated radio talk show hosts, “Rick & Bubba”, I thought more favorably of the idea. We had planned on launching a female spokesperson for their Honda Dealership here in Birmingham, Alabama, in the second quarter of ‘09, but I doubted the reality of this based on what it would cost them to hire such talent.
So then came the sale…
In a mid-February advertising meeting, where the Rick & Bubba video was shown to them for the first time, I hit them with the idea: “Save money and launch the Brannon Brothers as the ‘face’ of the dealership.” After all, that is what I told them their dealership needed when I met them in May of ‘08. Tom Brannon (the dealer) thought the idea was great, while I believe the brothers were still a little skeptical. In the end we all agreed it was time to hit the airwaves and make some noise in the second quarter!
The creative planning began and the idea to use a “white psych” (white background) was the ultimate aspect of differentiation. This would give the Ben and Patrick separation from all the “bad on-camera talent” that has flooded the Birmingham market for years.
You have to tip your hat to two guys who can execute their first-ever commercial in the manner that that they do. Leadership in any You have to tip your hat to two guys who can execute their first-ever commercial in the manner that that they do. Leadership in any organization is the greatest commodity you can have. Ben and Patrick have definitely demonstrated it in theirs.
…The man, “Dr. J” (that is our creative director, Dennis Johnson) has done it in mine.
John Paul Strong
John Paul Strong combines his two decades of automotive marketing experience with a team of more than 140 professionals as owner and CEO of Strong Automotive.