Unplugging TV Commercials For Software-Heavy TV Vehicles: The Computer That Carries You

Who needs automotive TV advertising anyway -- when you have social media, super fancy showrooms, Consumer Report reviews and, oh yes -- a big battery under the hood of a car that is connected to a healthy computer screen inside the car?

The last part is key: You are not buying a transportation vehicle -- you are not buying a computer device you hold in your hands. This big computer on the move is holding you.

With regard to the future of e-vehicles, Jim Farley, president/chief executive officer of Ford Motor Company, said, somewhat shockingly, at the Bernstein 38th Annual Strategic Decisions Conference: “I'm not convinced we need public advertising.” And, he points out what is really not needed is buying high-priced Super Bowl advertising.

Right now, he says, Ford spends $600 to $700 per vehicle on advertising -- money that might better go to consumer retention and after-market considerations.



“We spend nothing post-warranty on the customer experience... It would be much better if we try to develop an ecosystem where 100% came back, and we gave them experiences and that's our marketing.”

Evidence? There's Tesla, which spends zero dollars on national and local TV advertising. And look where that company is today. Still, one would believe potential car buyers with somewhat lesser knowledge in all electric cars would need more advertising, promotion and education -- not less.

As part of this, Farley also sees it as a waste of time to try to develop one's own integrated, customer-facing automotive software. Let Google, Apple, and others do that.

It seems incredible that Ford Motor would just abandon future TV marketing for its all electric cars and trucks. To date, Ford’s all-electric F-150 Lightning has placed $16.7 million in national TV advertising, according to -- especially with heavy TV commercial levels in NFL football programming.

Still, major things are changing -- even as the car business seems to slowly recover.

For the first six months of this year, national TV advertising for automotive manufacturers is now back to ad-spending levels of 2019 -- although still lower than in 2018, according to

Overall, local and national TV has already been hit with lower automotive TV advertising spend coming out the pandemic period -- and now, still suffering from supply-chain issues around the computer-chip shortage.

TV automotive advertising has been the core TV ad category for decades.

But does automotive EV kick off a different sort of ad marketplace for TV networks, stations and platforms looking for continued stability from its big ad category?

For the short term, expect little spark and less electricity in this area.

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