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BEV TV Ads Spark Hope For UK Auto Sector

April 4, 2022

2021 remained a challenging year for the UK Auto sector, with new car sales up just 1% on a pandemic-ravaged 2020 and still over 28% below pre-COVID levels*. However, despite ongoing challenges from the pandemic and global semiconductor shortage, it was not all bad news.

2021 was the most successful year for new battery electric vehicle (BEV) sales at 11.5% of new registrations*, which along with increasing Hybrid registrations, means 27.5% of the UK’s new vehicle registrations are now electrified in some form*.

This significant growth in electrified vehicle sales should come as no surprise, as the sector sees strong marketing support from manufacturers for their increasingly electrified vehicle portfolios. The SMMT estimates that over 40% of UK models are now available in plug-in form, and over 70% of UK Auto TV spots in 2021 featured electrified models. In addition, in its annual review of TV ad effectiveness in the UK Auto Sector, Phoenix MI found that all of the Top 10 Best Performing TVCs of 2021 featured electrified vehicles in some form.


Amongst the Premium Brands

Audi’s ads for its new RS e-Tron GT featuring Tom Hardy and Janelle Monáe delivered well, landing a clear sense of innovation and reinforcing Audi’s commitment to evolving technology while showcasing a very appealing BEV model that makes electrification feel very new and exciting.

BMW’s “Not The Power Of Words” spot also delivered strong performance. Its clear environmental theme and call to action built a positive connection with viewers, while its catchy Coldplay music track was found very appealing and helped support good engagement levels.

Similarly, the Mercedes EQC launch TVC benefited from the hugely popular Weeknd track “Blinding Lights,” which, along with its heritage visuals and fun twist, helped drive strong viewer engagement. In addition, the ad’s newsworthy, future-facing evolution message helped the ad secure the top spot in the 2021 Top 10 TV ranking.

Amongst Non-Premium Brands

Ford secured two slots in the 2021 Top 10 TV ads. Its Mustang Mach-E “Watch Me” spot showcases Ford’s new BEV with a catchy James Brown soundtrack and appealing visuals to build great viewer engagement and reinforce a strong sense of new/innovation, signaling an evident step change for Ford to a more cool/modern brand. The brand’s Kuga PHEV spot also performed strongly, with a clear, informative hybrid message that many found new/innovative, all delivered in a fun, visually appealing way with a well-liked music track that drove interest in the model.

Kia’s simple yet humorous spot using a parrot to call out their electric vehicle range captured viewer attention well. It meant the ad clearly landed its EV range message in an informative yet fun way.

Also capitalising on building a solid emotional connection through humour to entertain and catch the consumer’s eye to secure their place in the Top 10 were the Toyota C-HR “Hello Hybrid Happiness” and the MINI “Time To Feel” TVCs. The Toyota spot with its ‘Wacky Races’ inspired theme and cover of the Turtles’ “Happy Together” music track worked well to make sure the ad cut through and landed its appealing hybrid messaging. The Jackie Wilson “Higher and Higher” song helped deliver positive engagement levels and a strong sense of cool and fun for the MINI ad. The very relatable visuals of the car in everyday use ensured the ad’s intended BEV messaging cut through clearly for viewers.

The latest Renault Zoe TV spot delivered its BEV messaging effectively using a simple yet highly relatable and beautifully emotive storyline about a son leaving the family home to start a new chapter of life. The range on his Renault Zoe BEV means the home will always be within reach for him, making the model the true ‘hero’ of the narrative.

Rounding out the Top 10 Best Performing Auto TV ads of 2021 is Volkswagen with its Tesco/Pod Point partnership TVC about installing free charging stations at 400 Tesco stores across the UK to improve BEV charging infrastructure. Although not showcasing the brand’s latest BEV models, the humorous narrative drives strong engagement. In addition, the infrastructure messaging means the ad addresses consumer concerns in a highly relevant and direct way and ensures VW is seen as new and innovative, which drives a positive halo effect on the brand and its models.

What Does It All Mean?

Despite the Top 10 Best Performing TVCs of 2021 being dominated by electrified models, the presence of an electrified vehicle in your TV spot is no guarantee of success. Although Mercedes landed the top spot with its EQC spot, its subsequent spot for the EQS BEV did not fare well. Renault’s success with its Zoe spot was not replicated with its E-Tech plug-in range TVC, both of which sit closer to the bottom of the 2021 ranking alongside other BEV model spots from Polestar, Peugeot, and Seat.

So if showcasing your new plug-in model is no guarantee of success, what is?

From the Top 10 Auto TVCs, some key themes emerge:

  • Innovation: Ads need a strong sense of new/innovative to drive consumer interest.
  • Relevance: Relevant information that supports a clear benefit or addresses issues important to consumers is vital.
  • Emotion: Drive a positive emotional connection through entertaining, fun, relatable narratives or a well-known/catchy
    music track.

So, although the Auto sector is seeing a revolution in vehicle technology, the themes that underpin successful TV creative still reflect the constant need to engage consumers rationally and emotionally.

For more information on how Phoenix can help you improve your advertising effectiveness, reach out to Andrew Grant or contact us!

* Source Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) 2021 sales figures.
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