One of the automobile sector’s newest players is making a big bet on the Oscars at a time when many other car manufacturers are staying away from the glitzy event.
Lucid Motors, a manufacturer of luxury electric vehicles that believes it can compete with traditional auto companies like Mercedes-Benz, has typically spent most of its TV-advertising money for around sports and news programming. On Sunday, it will sponsor the Oscars, an entertainment program, for the first time, part of a bid to get its name out to a broader audience. Disney’s ABC has been seeking between $1.7 million and $2.2 million for a 30-second ad in the show, according to media buyers and executives, and announced this week it had sold off all its commercial inventory around the event.
“We just felt there was a moment happening around entertainment and film again,” after consumers spent the last two years hunkering down during the coronavirus pandemic, says Jeff Curry, Lucid’s vice president of marketing in an interview. “There are a lot of people now looking to go back to the movies.”
The company won’t find much traffic in its way. General Motors, which has sponsored the Oscars for the past few years, isn’t making an appearance on Sunday. And the only other auto advertiser that has disclosed its Oscars affiliation is Stellantis, which owns Chrysler, Dodge and Peugeot, among other brands. Some big car advertisers have pulled back in recent months, according to ad-sales executives and media buyers, owing to supply-chain issues that are making the prospect of keeping their products coming off the assembly line a difficult one at best.
That gives Lucid time to tell its story. In a spot slated to run during the Oscars, the company plans to show off its Lucid Air, which it says gets 500 miles on a single charge and has been named Motor Trend’s 2022 car of the year. Viewers get to see the car’s dashboard and interior as well as its outer design. “It’s not beginner’s luck,” says a female narrator.
“Talking about our product right now is the best single way we can tell people about who we are as a brand,” says Curry. “You can see the design and the technology that’s in it.”
Lucid’s challenge, notes Curry, is that “we’re new.” Advertisers often use events like the Oscars to tell consumers about new products or innovations, getting the word out to what is expected to be one of TV’s broadest audiences. Curry is aware the ABC broadcast has suffered in recent years from a significant decline in ratings — “maybe the ratings have not been quite as high as they have in the past” — but believes the decision to have this year’s program led by three female hosts at a moment when the nation hopes to recapture its old way of life will generate consumer interest. “We are hopeful it will be a really nice moment for the industry for entertainment in general, for people to tune in.”
The introduction of electric vehicles by many of the industry’s biggest manufacturers has already spurred some bold advertising swings. General Motors took to the Super Bowl with commercials that convened the cast of the “Austin Powers” movie series and reunited members of the HBO drama “The Sopranos.” Ford, Volvo and Hyundai are among the familiar names that have pledged to make more of a business in electric vehicles as consumers and governments grow more wary of the effects of climate change.
Lucid will also rely on some tactics that take place off screen. Orlando Bloom is supposed to be driving a Lucid Air around Los Angeles this weekend. And viewers might look for actor Kodi Smit-McPhee, nominated for supporting actor for his work in “ Power of the Dog,” to arrive at the Oscars on Sunday in a Lucid Air.