16 July 2019   

10 mins read
We spoke to Scott McElligott, Dealer Principal at Pickerings Auto Group, about how an advertising partnership with Stockland Townsville has enabled his automotive brand to thrive. In an increasingly cluttered marketplace, vendors are seeking new and exciting ways to engage with their audience and get their brand noticed. As Scott explains, pop-up brand activations in Stockland shopping centres offer just that.
1. Tell me a bit about Pickerings

Pickerings is an automotive company based in Townville that was founded around 40 years ago by Jeff and Lorraine Pickering. It has experienced significant growth since 1978, from one showroom on Flinders Street in Townsville to 18 entities throughout Queensland, the Northern Territory and Victoria. Despite the growth, it has remained a well-respected, family-run business with Jeff’s son, Brendan now the managing director. Offering a diversity of both new and used vehicles, Pickerings stocks everything from affordable Kias to luxury BMWs, with service options available at one of three large car service centres.


2. Tell me about Pickerings' partnership with Stockland

Three years ago, when I started at Pickerings, I recognised that from a business point of view, there was real value in partnering with Stockland Townsville. I needed a partner that could represent our growing brand and offer more sales avenues for my 150-strong staff servicing the Townsville region.

I was seeking a brand partnership that reflected the diversity within our portfolio and could showcase this diversity to a large and mixed audience. I needed a partnership that could put everything from my luxury brands to the more affordable imported ones in front of a similarly varied group of potential buyers.

For instance, a fashion show at the centre that goes hand-in-hand with one of our luxury brands lets us reach a similar audience. If I am promoting a new entrant to the Australian car market like MG, I need to get in front of as many people going about their daily lives as possible. We have been able to link our campaigns with the centre and achieve results accordingly. Partnering with Stockland has been a really nice fit for us because of the diversification and the opportunity for customers to immerse themselves with the brand.

If you would like to find out more about our pop-up and activation opportunities you can reach out to us by hitting 'Enquire' above.
3. What has it been like dealing with Stockland?

In my experience, Stockland staff have always been professional. At a local level, they treat us like a real partner, recognising the value in the partnership. The local staff always have our best interests at heart. We have maintained a close and active relationship and they are always eager to do more for us, suggesting other ways to grow our brand.


4. What do you see as the advantages of booking a casual mall activation in a Stockland centre?

The key is finding those real synergies and I have been able to do that with activations booked through Stockland Townsville.

When I know what event is happening in-centre and the audience that it will attract, I think about which vehicle would be a good fit. One great recent example was when we capitalised on the hype surrounding the release of the latest Marvel cinema blockbuster. We set up a brand activation to promote our limited edition Kona model with its Marvel-inspired finish. This resulted in moving the three vehicles that we had in stock, which may otherwise have been a very hard sell because of their niche design. There are countless examples of the sharing of audiences by finding synergies.

Whenever I have a new model, there are many ways to promote it. A lot of people find visiting a car dealership to be quite daunting so a memorable pop-up activation in a shopping centre is very valuable in capturing those people in a relaxed environment. Not to mention that the footfall at a shopping centre is significantly more than we experience at a dealership. We can demonstrate our products in an authentic way and make a powerful brand statement that resonates with the audience.

4. And how does it differ to other forms of advertising that you have tried?

It fulfils that early consideration phase – engaging with someone that is walking past in a centre and instantly entering their frame of consideration. It “gets us on the shopping list” and we become a talking point amongst their network. For example, a local mum might be casually going about her shopping, she sees a great vehicle in the centre before heading home and chatting to her partner about it that evening. We recognise the role it plays in targeting the early consideration buyer type.

Sometimes an activation with the right cars in the right colours catches a shopper’s attention, which leads them to submit an online enquiry. It’s this immediacy and sense of surprise of a pop-up activation that makes it  a vital part of the broader marketing mix. It is difficult to have a voice for all 11 of our brands all the time, so having a combination of channels that captures a mix of demographics is important.

It also broadens our geographic reach, as the centre is located in the suburbs – providing a hook outside of our primary trade area. This gives us a stronger presence in the broader region.

Static advertising channels like billboards and other forms of signage don’t have the same impact given that the buyer can’t touch and feel the product. In-centre, they can see and experience it in a comfortable, low-pressure environment. It’s an important step in the path to purchase.

4. Can you provide any results that can be attributed to the casual mall activation?

It is often difficult to quantify and attribute results although I can say that at least five per cent of our enquiries are generated through Stockland. This is significant relative to the whole traffic flow of the business.

Of course, this varies according to how appropriate the activation is and if it suits the market. We work with Stockland to consider what is seasonally relevant so we have the right car in the right location at the right time.


If you would like to find out more about our pop-up and activation opportunities you can reach out to us by hitting 'Enquire' above.