Car makers target ads toward kids to win parents

Brands are hoping to win consumers earlier than ever, with many grown-up categories targeting kids and teens. Automakers in particular are cashing in by recruiting these young salespeople. This can not only help seal customer loyalty at a young age, it also helps brands reach their parents: 92% of Millennial moms and dads say that their children have influence over their household purchase decisions.


In a recent ad from Lexus, a young girl named Emily is rather possessive of her parents’ brand new SUV, declaring, “They think it’s theirs. But it’s not theirs, it’s mine.” The ad shows all the fun that Emily has been having in her car—from celebrating with friends, to riding around with her dog, to taking naps—highlighting its design as a family vehicle. She gets her comeuppance, however, when her pregnant mom asks if she’s excited about her new baby sister coming, indicating that she’s going to have to learn to share.


Along with eco-friendly innovation, Chevy has been leaning in to ads that feel like focus groups packed with surprises, and they’re leveraging kids as part of the equation. In one of its latest iterations on that formula, it asks children to choose a new truck for their mom or dad, selecting among Chevy Silverado and the Ford F-150. The narrator sets up the choice, noting that the kids might inherit the vehicle one day down the road. When they choose Chevy’s “longest lasting full-size pickups on the road,” they earn their proud parents’ approval—and a fist bump.


For teens, their parents’ car not only represents a marker of adulthood and what they might be driving one day down the road, but also the vehicle that they will have to roll up to school in every morning until they’re able to drive themselves. In this ad from Volkswagen, most kids have to suffer embarrassment of being dropped off in uncool cars. However, a teen girl riding with her dad is the envy of all the other students, not only because he listens to hip hop on the way to school but also because of his stylish Volkswagen SUV.