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Ford blows more than £100m on new Puma adverts, but Renault tops the biggest spender list for 2020

Time 6 months ago

Ford conducted the biggest European advertising campaign last year in the motor industry spending more than £100m on pushing the Puma.

According to research by industry analysts Sophus3, the brand shelled out €119m (£103.6m), well ahead of Renault in second place which spent €96m (£83.5m) on the Zoe.

Automotive advertising collapsed during the first lockdown by more than 90 per cent as car manufacturers pulled campaigns as the world shut down.


In a report, Sophus3 said: ‘Brands did restart campaign activity over the summer. 

‘In August, normally the quietest month due to holidays, spend was even slightly up over the previous year. 

‘The emerging “second wave” of the pandemic in the autumn, combined with greatly reduced sales revenues, again stifled spending during the last quarter.’

€338m
Amount Renault spent on ads in 2020

Audi was the only car brand to ‘keep its nerve’ and continued to spend at previous levels with major campaigns for the A3 and e-tron GT.


Renault (€338m) and Volkswagen (€273m) were the biggest spending brands in 2020 despite their spend dropping 23 per cent and 32 per cent respectively. Audi (€253m) was third with spend up eight per cent – the only brand in the top 20 league table that rose.

2020 advertising spend by brand

  • 1 Renault, €338m -23% 
  • 2 Volkswagen, €273m -32% 
  • 3 Audi, €253m +8% 
  • 4 Ford, €236m -26% 
  • 5 BMW, €228m -11% 
  • 6 Peugeot, €189m -52% 
  • 7 Seat, €169m -38% 
  • 8 Skoda, €162m -18% 
  • 9 Fiat, €161m -43% 
  • 10 Citroen, €158m -45% 

The spend is calculated by Sophus3 using ‘rate card’ prices and does not take into account the discounts advertisers commonly receive.

Sophus3 added: ‘The Ford Puma was the largest campaign over the course of the year; Renault Zoe was the second placed. 

‘Renault not only committed to a large outlay within its home market but also spent aggressively in Germany to counter the introduction of VW’s first pure EV, the ID.3.’

Model campaign spend by manufacturers

  • 1 Ford Puma, €119m (no change) 
  • 2 Renault Zoe, €96m +15% 
  • 3 Seat Leon, €87m +112% 
  • 4 Renault Captur, €80m -10% 
  • 5 Ford Kuga, €71m +40% 
  • 6 Volkswagen Range, €71m -11% 
  • 7 Jeep Range, €71m +46% 
  • 8 BMW 1 Series, €69m +29% 
  • 9 Fiat 500, €68m -38% 
  • 10 Volkswagen Golf, €68m +29%

Car brands saw traffic to their websites drop by an average of 12 per cent during 2020, says the firm with a total of 1.08bn visits.

Those that didi visit manufacturer websites predominantly headed to model pages (51 per cent), configurators (20 per cent) and dealer locator pages (2.8 per cent).

Large numbers came via a mobile phone (58 per cent) with desktop visits down 3 per cent to 35 per cent of the total.

The report added: ‘The concept of the “home computer” as some kind of centrally located digital fireplace around which households gather for warmth and succour needs finally to be laid to rest. 

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‘Small form factor devices are the de facto way people view content and choose to interact with the world. 

‘Yet many car brand websites still dwell within an arcane comfort zone in which the use of large format images remains the guiding principle to communicate brand and product messages, and in which interaction via a keyboard is the assumed default.’

The figures were revealed in the Sophus3 Digital Car Buyer in Numbers 2021 report, which can be downloaded here.

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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