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Ad Sales Outlook for the Auto Industry

IPG Mediabrands’ Magna agency predicts that ad sales will rise by 3.4% in the U.S, a recent downgrade of their prediction late last year for a 3.7% increase in 2023. A significant part of those projected gains are attributed to the automotive industry, which is racing back to life as supply chain issues are resolving. Magna predicts a 10% bump in car sales this year, which should prompt car brands and dealers to boost their own spending on ads by 10% to 15%.

Last year was “very much a seller’s market,” said Vincent Létang, head of global market intelligence at Magna. Yet despite various economic concerns, brands like General Motors, Hyundai, and Kia actually increased their spending by leaning into ads for their electric vehicle (EV) fleets. TV spots promoting EVs accounted for 24% of automakers’ spending in 2022, up from 13.8% the previous year, per data from This continued focus on EVs, combined with improved production systems, could prompt the auto sector to increase  for the first time in several years, according to Magna. “We haven’t taken our foot off the accelerator, because we do see the transformation of EVs occurring,” said Russell Wager, Kia America’s VP of marketing. 

Brands Get Onboard
According to industry forecaster LMC Automotive, EVs now account for roughly 10% (or 7.8 million) of all new cars sold globally, with growth driven mainly by Europe and China. Ford recently announced plans to sell only electric vehicles in its European market by 2035, targeting carbon neutrality while introducing seven new battery-powered models within that time. A first step of this initiative was introducing the world to its Ford Mustang Mach-E in a spot that highlights the car’s abilities to adapt to its driver’s behaviors in advanced ways, like using fingerprint technology to automatically adjust mirrors. Japanese carmaker Nissan recently introduced its latest electric vehicle, called ARIYA, with a 240-minute anime film showing a woman driving the car—and not much else. Fans hailed it as “peaceful” and “one of the best ads I’ve ever seen in my life.” Finally, General Motors joined forces with Netflix for a series of film and TV show alliances that aim to “rewrite the marketing playbook,” according to GM’s global CMO Deborah Wahl. Several Netflix series will feature electric GM models over the coming year, while fans can already look forward to a 60-second 2024 Super Bowl spot that will include Will Farrell and GM’s EVs making cameo appearances in Netflix hits like Bridgerton and Stranger Things, among others. Overall, it’s looking like a smoother road ahead for auto industry brands and marketers.

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