Why do dealers get to place their names on the backs of the cars they sell?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Dec 01, 1996

Dear Tom & Ray:

Why is it that dealers get free advertising by placing their dealership
name or logo on the rear of cars? There is no useful purpose in this -- not
for identification, not for service, not for anything. If I sell you a suit
to wear, will you let me put my store name on the back of the coat? If a
dentist does some dental work for you, should he or she get to put a tattoo
on your forehead for advertising? What gives? Just sign me "rear-vended." -
- Dale

TOM: Anthropologists call this "marking," Dale. Leaving your calling card
everywhere you go. It's the auto-dealer equivalent of what dogs do on fire

RAY: Here's a good approach. Before you take delivery of a new car, ask the
dealer if he would like to advertise on the back of your car. He will
probably look at you quizzically and say, "Sure."

TOM: Then you explain to him that approximately 1,000 people see the back
of your car every day. That's 30,000 people a month. And tell him your cost
per thousand (that's advertising lingo for how much it costs to get 1,000
people to see your ad) is $10, which is quite reasonable. So the cost of
advertising on the back of your car is $300 a month -- which he can forward
directly to the bank, in care of your loan payment.

RAY: Don't forget to remind him that there's also a 15 percent agency
commission (that's advertising lingo for "extra markup"), which you'll be
glad to waive in exchange for the six-CD changer and the cell phone.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One