Jim Huebner
21 September, 2021

Most mornings, I start the day out on the elliptical machine. I can’t say I enjoy it, but there is one benefit in addition to breaking a sweat. I get to watch a lot of television ads.

Yes, while most people are fast-forwarding or channel surfing during commercial breaks, I’m actually looking for them. I guess it sort of goes with the territory in which I live.

A while back, I was particularly drawn to a host of ads that fell right inside our bailiwick… manufacturers selling their products through local dealers. In just two trips on the elliptical, I saw ads for Cub Cadet, EGO and Troy-bilt mowers, Polaris ATVs, Sea Doo jet skis, and Stihl outdoor power equipment.

And there were two very interesting things I observed…

#1 – WHERE?

Of the six products advertised, only three actually told the viewer where they could purchase the products. Three?! If these brands were Coca- Cola or State Farm or Pampers, I wouldn’t necessarily expect it. After all, they only have 30 seconds. BUT, for these brands with very limited budgets, who are only advertising during their peak selling seasons and truly need the local dealer to move the sales needle… well, to have no dealer tag at the end of these commercials seems like a mistake to me.

Giving these brands the benefit of the doubt, I decided to visit each of their websites, thinking maybe they are steering the visitor directly to the local dealer on the site. Frankly, with very little effort, the manufacturer’s website can be programmed to show the new visitor who and where their local dealer is the very second the website loads. But alas, not one manufacturer directed the visitor immediately to their local dealer. Another big opportunity lost, in my opinion.


Of the six brands, one offered a sweepstakes, four offered some type of discount or rebate… and only one actually spent time discussing a relevant, differentiating attribute about the product. That was the EGO mower. At the time, it had a new, 56V lithium-ion battery that enabled you to mow your entire yard with one electric charge… and no extension cords!? These types of mowers are becoming a real game-changer for those with smaller yards. EGO also happened to be one of the three who actually told the viewer where to buy the product, too (Home Depot.) The marketers at this company definitely “get it.”

And the takeaway?

  • 1) If you have a limited budget, certain peak selling seasons, and a national (or international) dealer network, make certain that those who are exposed to your advertising know exactly where to find your product, and;
  • 2) Be sure to communicate what relevant attribute(s) separates your brand from the competition. If you’re not doing this, it’s going to be all about price.