The awards were given to national TV commercials that worked best to cut through the clutter, but breaking through isn't a new idea in such a crowded category. Of the nearly $10 billion automakers spent in measured media last year, just less than $6 billion was in TV, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
Throughout 2007, IAG compiled results for awareness, likeability and brand recall 24 hours after commercials aired; 2.5 million consumers voted on the ads after opting in on IAG's website. IAG studied the total scores for all auto brands (not just its clients) to determine the six winners.
'Three anchors' for excellence
IAG President Lois Miller told Advertising Age effective national TV spots rely on three core anchors: an advertiser with the vision to see how to position its products differently; a creative advertising agency; and a media agency that gets the ads in the most highly engaged places.
Ms. Miller said there's an 89% correlation between how intently people watch a TV program and their general ad recall, meaning engaging programming can also lift recall of a brand's commercial.
IAG's Sallie Hirsch-Johnson, senior VP-research, said sometimes humor works, citing Hyundai Motor America's sole launch spot for the Veracruz. The commercial, from Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, showed a woman mistakenly getting into a Lexus; it was awarded the Most Effective New Nameplate Launch of 2007.
Emotion-driven commercials also can be very effective, she added, citing an ad for General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet brand, dubbed "Ain't We Got Love." It won the award for Most Effective Overall Ad in the non-luxury category. Interpublic Group of Cos.' Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich., handles the brand.
Hummer is Most Liked
GM also won the Most Liked Ad award for a Hummer spot that showed the SUV as if it were in a video game. Hummer's agency is Modernista, Boston.
Toyota's launch of its redone Tundra pickup, which broke during last year's Super Bowl, was honored as the Most Effective Established Nameplate Launch.
Ms. Miller said the commercials "were really dramatic and dramatic ads tend to do very well" with audiences.
The Tundra TV spots showed off the pickup's towing, braking and hauling capabilities with daredevil-like demonstrations. The ads were from Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, Torrance, Calif.
Ms. Hirsch-Johnson said automakers' national TV ads are sometimes successful because they are consistent with and build on prior communications. As an example, she cited Toyota's luxury brand, Lexus, which won Most Effective Overall Ad in the luxury segment.
The commercial, dubbed "Hockey Practice," was from the brand's "December to Remember" sale, an umbrella model clearance event that it has advertised for several years. The spot, from Team One, El Segundo, Calif., showed a husband surprising his wife with a Lexus as a gift after he asks her to pick up their son from hockey practice.
Launch of the Green Award
This year, a new award, the Green Award, went to Subaru of America for its "Soul of Subaru" spot featuring a good-looking man talking about the company's environmental efforts. Omnicom's DDB, New York, which lost the account without a review last year, handled the effort.
Subaru won the Green Award because the highest number of IAG's consumer voters not only most recalled the brand, but also the green message, said Ms. Hirsh-Johnson.
While humor, seriousness, drama and consistency all help, sometimes a "little magic also makes things happen," Ms. Hirsch-Johnson said about cutting through the clutter. "It's an art. It's not a science -- always."