After years of using radio to promote his brand and his business, Ian Speckman has found a unique approach to make people across British Columbia aware of his Maple Ridge Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge dealership.
For the past 18 months, Speckman and his sons Luke and Joel have appeared as faux sportscasters in a studio used by the Sportsnet TV network, and doing shtick to promote the dealership and the family brand.
The commercials are shown on regional broadcasts of the Vancouver Canucks games and on local Global TV newscasts. A 15-second spot was also shown locally on a simulcast of the final game of the 2017 World Series and during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The commercial spots have made Speckman and his sons quasicelebrities in the province.
“It gets a little embarrassing,” he said. “I will go to a hockey game and someone will say, ‘Why aren’t you at work selling Dodges?’”
The TV commercials are a product of media marketing Speckman began in 2008 with “unconventional” radio commercials featuring a back-and-forth conversation with his former partner.
“They were loud and in your face, and they worked really well,” Speckman said. “We captivated that for about five or six years. And then other dealers started [doing it], and I started having a hard time hearing the difference. So, I thought this pie isn’t the venue I really want to use any- more.”
To be proactive and a leader in the Vancouver marketplace, he decided to film a TV commercial, loosely based on himself and which morphed into an animated character.
While in the broadcast studio, Speckman was shown the Sportsnet set. He thought it would be fitting to do a commercial in that setting, and was given the go-ahead.
“If you’re going to be on TV [advertising], where do you want to be?” he said. “You want to be on the news or you want to be on sports. We tried to get ourselves into live TV.
“We don’t promote price per se. What we really market is who we are.We try to be a little bit fun and funny. I’m a family guy, and I’ve got three boys, two of whom are now in the commercials with me. So, people know they are not just buying from some big car company but a family and real people.
“To this day, I will write the whole car deal up. I’ll do a walk-around with a customer. I’m in the showroom, actively selling cars. We get involved and market ourselves very strongly about the pleasure of buying here.”
Speckman said the commercials are costly to produce, employing 10 professional technical people. He works with his radio representative to script the commercials.
“So much of it has to fit to the individual,” he said. “We find that’s pretty important; that it’s got to be something I would say or my sons would say. I have a fairly distinctive voice. It has to fit me.”
Speckman and his sons learn lines and project them like actors. The commercials are shot using five to six camera angles and are spliced together. He said each commercial costs between $3,500- $5,000 and the ads are shot three at a time.
Some customers come to the showroom having seen Speckman and his sons in the commercials and want to meet them.
“I’m the face of the dealership is what it really comes down to. I’m someone they can identify to what Maple Ridge Chrysler is, but we don’t like to use the word famous.”
“We’ve kind of become like the Sportsnet [guys] because we use their desk. The idea of using the Sportsnet desk is to grab [viewers’] attention. The network uses us as fillers because we just fit so nice into what they already do and how they look. We’re just a natural [fit].”
The commercials use the words “we’re closer than you think.”
“That tag line has really separated us,” Speckman said. “That’s what people have been saying to me for years. ‘Hey, Ian, you’re closer than you think.’”
You can watch one of Speckman's ads in the video player below.