There are many ways to market a product, and different products benefit from different marketing angles, but if I had to point to one key it would be: connect to people's emotions. I know, nothing new, but that doesn't mean everyone gets it.
Electric car ads have been quite bad over the years. Many trudge along like boring public service announcements muddled together on a rainy day. Without a doubt, this sort of advertising is part of the reason why electric cars are considered uncool, dorky, and boring. Tesla has come along and shaken things up with the hottest sedan on the market, but it doesn't actually advertise its vehicles, so we're yet to see what an official Tesla commercial would look like.
Thankfully, however, I think one major automaker really gets it. Or perhaps the point is that it's one of two major automakers* that really wants to see its electric cars do well. (Many electric cars are "compliance cars" that are only made and sold in order to meet California automaker regulations... since no one wants to be left out of one of the largest auto markets in the world.)
BMW has been marketing its 100% electric BMW i3 and plug-in hybrid electric BMW i8 exceptionally well, which matches the fact that it is bringing the i3 to many large markets and actually aiming to produce and sell a good number of i3s. The Olympics ads for these vehicles were great. However, I think the following i8 ad takes the cake. It does have one notable glitch, but overall it does an excellent job of actually making people desire this plug-in hybrid. It actually connects to people's emotions and makes the i8 look hot, awesome, badass. Give it a watch and then feel free to read more of my thoughts:
That's a standout ad, imho. Furthermore, aside from some obviously fake engine sounds, it makes a strong point of the fact that the i8 is electric... even though it is actually a plug-in hybrid with only 23 miles of all-electric range before a gasoline engine kicks in.
It highlights the wicked acceleration of the i8, which is admittedly more sensical for a car that can go from 0 mph to 62 mph in an impressive 4.4 seconds than with most other electric cars (which have great acceleration, especially thanks to their instant torque, but aren't quite that fast).
It makes electric cars seem like they are the future, which I am convinced is the case.
It turns the i8 into a strong, passionate, bold, exciting human who we can all emotionally connect with better than we can emotionally connect with a car.
At $136,000, the BMW i8 isn't going to make it to many homes. However, ads like this one can make people think, "Hmm, electric? That sounds cool. Should I get an electric car?" They will likely discover that the i8 is out of their range, but then they may test drive a BMW i3, a Nissan Leaf, a Chevy Volt, or another affordable plug-in car. Once you test drive a plug-in car, I think you know that the age of gasmobiles is on the way out.
If you're curious, here are more details about the BMW i8. Also, in case you missed them, here are some more BMW plug-in car commercials:
Lastly, here are two other electric car commercials that I think were very well conceived and well executed, despite having a different (more humorous) focus than the BMW commercials:
*Renault-Nissan is the world leader in electric car sales, and it is definitely looking to remain a leader in this fast-growing sector.