Enjoying what you’re reading? Sign up now.


Top 10 Don’ts of Dealership Television Ads

Old television
Article Highlights:

  • What NOT to do with your TV ads.
  • Be consistent and engage viewers.

What makes a successful TV commercial, one that causes buzz at the water cooler the next day?

In the last edition, Bruce Hughes and I reviewed the top 10 “do’s” when creating a new TV spot. This time, I sat down with Bruce again to come up with the top 10 “don’ts” when creating a TV ad.

Here’s our list:

1. Don’t put your whole family in the commercial. Less is more. Shooting a TV commercial can be a very exciting time at the dealership, and you’ll want to get as many people involved as possible; however, there is no reason to include your friends, family, and the family dog. By including too many people in the scene, you’ll lose the overall message you are trying to portray.

2. Don’t settle for the first time slot available. There are options. It’s possible at your first meeting, your advertising representative will only offer you one spot, and it may not be at the best time (i.e. 3:00 a.m. on a Wednesday). Don’t settle. Push back and see what else is available.

3. Don’t use more than one call to action. If you have too many calls to action (“Call us,” “Visit us on Saturday,” and “Check out our website”) it can be very confusing. What do you want the consumer to do? Come buy a car, look at your website, or call you. Keep it simple for your potential customers.

4. Don’t be rude to the production crew. Show some R-E-S-P-E-C-T. The television station will send you a production crew. Those people will try not to disrupt business and be in and out in a timely manner. The more you respect their time, the easier it’s going to be to work with them in the future. Plus, they are the ones editing your commercial.

5. Don’t wear casual clothing. Dress to impress. Hundreds and thousands of people are going to see your advertisement. Be sure to dress the part. Don’t lose yourself, but by all means dress to impress your viewers.

6. Don’t cast just anyone. Choose your spokesperson wisely. Don’t use just any employee at your dealership to be the spokesperson. The person you choose will ultimately be the face and/or voice of your dealership. Many times consumers associate your spokesperson as the owner of the dealership and associate his or her actions with your dealership as well.

7. Don’t fill the screen. If you fill the entire screen with graphics and animations. There’s a good chance they’ll get cut off depending on the settings on your viewer’s TV. Standard practice is to leave about an 88 pixel border of blank space around your full screen graphics so they are not cut off and can be viewed on any television set. You might not know what a pixel is, but be sure to tell the editor.

8. Don’t assume post-production can fix it all. Magic happens in post-production but don’t assume everything can be fixed. Most likely what you shoot will be what is put into the commercial and aired on TV.

9. Don’t conform to the status quo. Different is OK. Don’t be afraid to try something different. Sometimes the most successful campaigns are the most creative campaigns. There’s nothing written in stone saying a car dealership commercial can’t be animated.

10. Don’t run multiple campaigns at once. Run one campaign at a time. Don’t use different messaging on your website, online advertisements, and television advertisements. Be sure to run one campaign at a time and have all advertising spots be cohesive. When you update one, make sure to update the others.


Overall, simplicity is key. You want to be consistent in your ads. Less is more. If you follow these simple rules it should result in a successful campaign for your store, getting your customers to buzz about your ads not your competitors.

Share this Article

Katie earned a bachelor’s degree in Media Management with a minor in Business from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. She was a Marketing Communications Professional at Reynolds and Reynolds in Dayton.

Related Articles:

Reviewing data

4 Things Every Dealership Can Do to Prepare for Future Success

Right now, your dealership is successful and running smoothly. That’s a great first step towards ensuring future success, but there’s always more work to do.

Do's and Don'ts of AI

Do’s and Don’ts of Automation

AI is the next level of automation. Let's go back to the basics and think about some of the do’s and don’ts of automation.

man holding a phone displaying digital identity icons like a wallet, thumbprint, password, and credit card

10 Ways to Protect your Dealership from Synthetic Fraud

Dealerships are now at a higher risk of losing out due to fraud, and one misstep could lead to a substantial financial loss. Here are

NADA Photo Compilation

Amid the NADA Buzz, 3 Common Themes I heard from Dealers

NADA is always a busy, boisterous event – multiply it by 10 when you’re in Vegas. As I walked around the show talking with dealers,