We’ve all seen those obnoxious actors or dealer owners screaming at us on TV to buy a car or truck from their lot. Crazy car commercials are a dime a dozen. But some automotive dealerships are more innovative, choosing to direct their creativity into on-site promotions in the hopes of attracting more customers to their locations. And in some cases, their imaginative antics net them media publicity as well as increased sales.
Here are the top five crazy promotions of all time from American auto dealers.
1. Safari Sale
Franklin Sussex Auto Mall – Sussex, NJ
On a single September Saturday, this dealership “walks on the wild side.” It transforms itself into a mini-wildlife preserve, complete with live kangaroos, snakes, monkeys, and camels. Salespeople are clad in khaki safari outfits and pith helmets, customers get free food and drink, and the dealership gives away a Disney World Animal Kingdom vacation.
2. Buy A Car From a Rockstar
Checkered Flag Volkswagen – Virginia Beach, VA
This promotion is simple yet brilliant: all of the auto salesmen and women dress up like a famous rock star. Customers can purchase a new vehicle from the “likes” of Michael Jackson, Ozzy Osbourne, Madonna, and Lady Gaga. The dealership generates buzz for the event by co-sponsoring singing or karaoke events at nearby restaurants and bars with a local radio station. And a Volkswagen Beetle is raffled off with the proceeds benefitting one of the region’s charities.
3. Free AK-47
Nations Trucks – Sanford, FL
If you’re gonna spend money on a new truck, then you’d better have something to protect it with. That’s the reasoning behind this dealer’s “buy a truck, get a machine gun” promotion. New truck purchasers receive a $400 voucher good at a local firearms shop where the customer can buy his or her own AK-47. After all, guns and trucks go together like hot dogs and apple pie, right?
4. Score on a Kickoff, Get a Rebate
Mastria Auto Group – Raynham, MA
This promotion caters to the football-loving risk-taking car buying population, and it comes in many forms. But here’s the gist: if customers purchase a vehicle during a certain time period, all of them receive a major prize if something specific occurs in a designated football game (like the hometown team shutting out an opponent, for example). The dealer banks on the long odds, but buys an insurance policy in case the unexpected happens (you could call it “dealer auto insurance.”) We singled out the Mastria Auto Group because it offered a $5,000 rebate if the New England Patriots scored a touchdown on a kickoff return in their 2010 home opener. Which they did – and the dealership paid out $160,000.
5. If it Rains, It’s Free
Bozard Lincoln-Mercury – St. Augustine, FL
The promotion was similar to the abovementioned NFL-themed offer, but it bet on the weather rather than a football game. Customers who bought a vehicle from the dealer in March of 2011 would get to own them free and clear if the city recorded more than one inch of rain on the morning of April 8. But it was sunny on the designated morning, so the dealer didn’t have to make good on its offer.