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SOME manufacturers are stretching their marketing budgets, and their creativity, to maximise the sales of their ute products to reach audiences that may never have previously considered such vehicles.

Utes now command 17.4 per cent of the new-vehicle market in year-to-date April data and two of them, the Toyota HiLux and the Ford Ranger, vie with each other for the top sales spot of the overall market.

The majority of the 65,385 sales were for the popular dual-cab 4WD versions. The 4WD ute sales are up 9.4 per cent this year compared with the same period in 2017.

The most notable ute marketing comes from Holden that has 26.9 per cent of its total sales attributed to the Colorado ute, less than half the reliance that Ford has on its Ranger ute.

Holden has also dramatically overturned its marketing program, removing former marketing director Mark Harland and introducing Kristian Aquilina who has been seconded from a highly successful marketing program at Holden New Zealand.

Reflecting Mr Aquilina’s light-hearted approach to marketing and advertising, Holden aims to put a smile on viewers’ dials for its TVC that pitches a mountain goat against the Colorado.

Holden’s ‘Not to be outdone’ campaign shows a Colorado driver take on a scheming mountain goat in the hills.

Mr Aquilina said: “Colorado is a vehicle that can go anywhere and is always capable of standing up to a challenge, be that on the work site, in the city or even against a sneaky mountain goat.

“The new campaign – which has been in the works for a while – is a more light-hearted, jovial approach for Holden with Colorado. An approach we’re confident will better speak to our good-humoured target market.”

The campaign was launched on The AFL Footy Show on April 19.

Ford’s answer is a multi-channel marketing campaign including digital, TV, radio and social media. Ford used its agency partners GTB (Global Team Blue) for a successful program – so successful that Ford Australia said “our Ranger sales results are the proof in the pudding!”

Ford would not disclose the cost of the campaign.

Asked if the target market was increasingly private and families, or if it remained tradies, Ford Australia said “we recognise that the Australian truck buyer has progressed”.

“People who, rather than being stuck in the past, have advanced and are often well ahead of the curve,” a spokesperson said.

“This is especially when it comes to embracing technology and new work practices.

“The Ford Ranger was not just any old truck. We believe it is the most advanced tool in the new Aussie truck buyer’s shed.”

Don’t think Isuzu Ute is a small player in the burgeoning ute (D-Max) and SUV (MU-X) markets. Sales of its two models in 2017 exceeded the year-end totals of both Audi and BMW, however in year-to-date April data, it beats only Audi.

Isuzu Ute Australia general manager marketing and PR, Mike Conybeare, told GoAutoNews Premium that it has new advertisements pushing its ‘Go Your Own Way’ theme to be played across TV channels and time slots.

Isuzu started its ‘Go Your Own Way’ campaign three years ago and it has been attributed with helping the company achieve double-digit sales growth each year since the brand started selling here in 2008.

“For TV we will be partnering with 7, 9, 10 and Foxtel for this campaign period,” he said.

“The key is that our vehicles are extremely versatile and appeal to a number of audiences so the key is finding those various relevant audiences for each vehicle as opposed to targeting specific time slots.”

The first of the two commercials will consist of range pricing for the D-Max and MU-X, that will also highlight the towing abilities of the vehicles, due to the inclusion of trailer sway control on the updated range.

As well as TV, it will run on digital, magazine and social media platforms, with search engine optimisation (SEO) to play a role as well.

Isuzu will also run a separate campaign to commemorate the permanent introduction of the top-spec LS-T variant to the D-Max range, which Mr Conybeare says “highlights key features and upgrades which will be utilised in an integrated marketing campaign across various channels including TV, digital, radio, outdoor, magazines, social media and search”.

The creative agency running the campaign is Publicis Queensland, while media strategy is handled by Ikon Communications Brisbane.

Mr Conybeare said Isuzu has been particularly happy with how the ‘Go Your Own Way’ campaign has resonated with customers since launching on air.

“It has worked to unify our brands over the past three years and position the brand as not just an automotive company but as a company that is empowering extraordinary lifestyles,” he said.

Nissan told GoAutoNews Premium that the target market for Navara was predominantly male, with around one third self employed that could fall into the more traditional “tradie” category.

Nissan Australia’s general manager of brand and communications, Rebecca Williams, said that about one half of the target market were families with one or more child.

“Increasingly buyers are using their vehicle for both work and leisure and this changes the go-to-market strategy,” she said.

Nissan uses a variety of tactics and channels to reach its Navara buyers but it said it was not limited to TV, digital, EDMs and social media messaging.

“We take a multi-channel approach,” Ms Williams said.

“The cabin of our Navara is quite often the office and understanding the evolving media consumption habits is critical to success.

“Our extensive national network of dealers play a strong role in advertising to both their existing Navara customers – as well as new prospects to the brand.”

Ms Williams said Nissan had partnered with TBWA for more than 20 years in Australia and it produces all its advertising campaigns.

“Our latest campaign centers on an epic adventure, leveraging incredible CGI and the powerful music track ‘Freedom’ by Pharrell Williams,” she said.

“The campaign has been in market for several months and proven successful in broadening appeal within a highly competitive segment.

“It depicts a father and son on an epic journey with a herd of migrating wildebeest to demonstrate both the power and the fuel economy of the Navara.

“As customers increasingly use their vehicles for dual purpose – work and leisure – we’ve taken a very different approach to mainstream campaigns.

“Our creative provides cut through in a segment that has been very traditional in its approach.”

Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd said it has had a very strong reaction to its advertising that targets private buyers and small business operators.

The car-maker’s head of corporate communications, Karl Gehling, said the ute market buyer was traditionally in the 25-54 age group and so Mitsubishi has looked predominantly at sport and recreation as the prime activities in which its buyers would be interested.

“We have been careful to program advertising to suit demographics and advertising time slots to suit our target market and this has shown to be very effective,” he said.

“We also have a weighting towards the outdoors – where our vehicles are being used and where our buyers are – and participate actively in events such as 4WD and fishing and camping shows.”

Mitsubishi’s advertising agency is Richards Rose which has become a long-standing association.

By Neil Dowling and Robbie Wallis