Horizon Media Finds Automakers, Dealers Getting Mixed Reviews On Pandemic Messaging

Horizon Media is out with some illuminating social-listening research on the auto category, including the finding that there’s concern about auto dealers being open during the pandemic. Much of the concern is about the health and safety of employees. 

Some have weighed in on what they believe is insensitivity by some carmakers and dealers in their ads. 

One post quoted in the research termed ads by Ford and Nissan “disgusting…People are sick, people are scared, people are being laid off but hey, maybe I should go buy A NEW CAR!!” 

Another post equated open showrooms to “a petri dish” for COVID-19. 

But some brands, including Ford and Hyundai, also received praise for offering delayed payment options for those whose finances are impacted by the pandemic. 

And carmakers contributing to the war effort by converting some manufacturing operations into medical equipment producers received kudos from consumers. 



There’s a lot of confusion about online car buying options, per the research. 

Horizon laid out some of the key takeaways: 

Public health is paramount

Companies need to clearly communicate what they’re doing to keep their employees and the public safe, and strike a sensitive tone in communications. 

Virtual, contactless buying and servicing is essential

In a recent survey, 48% of people said they’re interested in handling price negotiations online, and 42% said they want to handle financing online. Since many are not comfortable with online purchasing, sellers should clear up the confusion with clear communications about details of virtual buying. 

In an uncertain economy, financial help and deals are appreciated

With many worried about being able to make their car payments, brands that offer help are receiving positive attention. 

Making the safe social distancing sale

People’s desire for cleanliness and privacy makes people crave their own private rides, and buying a car already fits into some people’s post-pandemic plans.



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