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Automotive Case Study

Sometimes a crazy idea leads to amazing things. Many auto dealerships today are owned by corporate giants; they produce one TV commercial that will run in all their cities or states, then tag it with the local company name and address. In Albuquerque, the Melloy Dodge dealership has been owned and operated by the same family for more than 60 years. As a locally-owned business, they support the high school teams, reinvest in the community, and bend over backward to help car buyers find the right solution for their transportation needs.

The company spokesperson likes to have some humor in the commercials. So, over the years, he’s portrayed a mad scientist cooking up deals, a game show host, and other fun characters. But, in one commercial years ago we included a chicken, a hen he dubbed Margo. Since the New Mexico TV stations cover almost all of New Mexico, the signal reached the rural areas as well as the Albuquerque and Santa Fe metro areas. The chicken became a hit. People would tell him, “I drove four hours from Clovis to come to buy a car from you. How’s Margo doing?” If we went more than a few months without incorporating the chicken into another setting, he’d hear about it… “Where’s Margo? Is she okay?”

Why did a chicken resonate and drive viewers to a car dealership? Several reasons… it was unusual, so it stuck in people’s heads; chickens have become “mainstream” with many people having backyard chicken coops; it created a clear distinction between a locally-owned company versus a giant conglomerate. But also, in one of the early commercials, Margo (who was always accompanied by a chicken-handler and received excellent care) was startled by something as she was being held in the car dealer’s arm for the closing tag. And his natural response was to stroke her feathers and coo “it’s all right, Margo”… it showed the human side of the business, further distinguishing their point of difference. The lesson: it’s all about creating a brand that people identify with, even if it included a chicken.