Case Study By Industry | Automotive

Case Study By Industry | Automotive
Divisional U.S. Revenue: $800 Million
Global Corporate Revenue: $100 Billion

Insight in Action: Leveraging Cultural and Emotional Factors to Engage Black Consumers

Learn how the world’s leading brands are applying Collage Group’s cultural insights to drive enhancements in advertising that improve cultural resonance.


The SUV division of a major global automotive OEM was struggling to activate higher-income Black consumers. The Director of Insights wanted category-specific attitude and purchase behavior data to weave a consumer-centric story and inform the creative brief for their ad agency.


Using Collage Group’s proprietary cultural intelligence platform, the automaker infused the creative brief with key insights on the Cultural Traits of the Black segment which linked to category specific behaviors and details. The Director developed a powerful brief that grounded high-value product attributes in “the why” of underlying cultural and emotional factors, enabling the agency to produce Culturally Fluent content.


Collage Group’s cultural intelligence proved critical to improving the brand’s advertising. Collage data and tools enabled the Director to ground category insights in an understanding of the cultural traits of the target consumer. Specific steps included:

Category-level detail is a useful, practical starting point for engaging key demographics.


Anchor strategy on Black consumer preferences for specific vehicle features.


Category Essentials – Automotive provided a range of useful insights into attitudes and product trade-offs, revealing unique preferences for engine performance, styling, entertainment features, GPS, and Wi-Fi.


Collage’s deep dive into cultural insights allowed brand leaders to interpret the category-level detail into a broader strategy and application of the insights.

Deep cultural insights allowed brand leaders to interpret category-level detail into a broader strategy and application.


  1. Evaluate the cultural resonance the automotive brand and recent ads with Black consumers.


CultureRate Analyses of the brand and recent ads revealed major weakness in brand appeal to Black consumers. These consumers were not attaching to the brand’s legacy appeal to Millennial and Gen X White consumers enthusiastic about the great outdoors.

2. Map the geography of Black experience.

Custom Market Profiler identified the geographies associated with higher-income Black consumers. These locations inform the selection of scenes more likely to be familiar to the Black segment.

3. Immerse in Black cultural experience

Webinars and presentations on Black Cultural Traits helped build empathy toward the segment with the Director’s team including key execs.

The team applied these insights to formulate useful hypotheses about feature preferences.

4. Lean into Passion Points that reveal where and how Black culture comes to life.

Webinars and Presentations on Black Passion Points revealed specific activities including sports, travel and fashion preferences that would inform creative decision-making.


Putting Insights Into Action

The Director was able to develop a powerful creative brief.

Instead of relying on a litany of disconnected insights into vehicle feature preferences of Black consumers, she developed a framework for a clean narrative with the following elements:

    • Build messaging around Ambition and Self-Expression themes instead of Adventure and Freedom.
    • Use sleek cityscapes instead of wild landscapes.
    • Associate vehicle use with specific sports, like weight training, instead of outdoor adventure like hiking.
    • Reframe “premium craftsmanship” as “style and luxury” to connect with the Self-Expression trait.
    • Appropriate Americana in ways that clearly highlight the leadership and contribution of Black people to American history, per the Ambition trait, and to the brand.
    • Cast Black Xennials (Gen Y/ Gen X) with multiculturally oriented friend groups, and drop empty nesters.

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Measuring the Cultural Fluency of Ads: Subaru

Measuring the Cultural Fluency of Ads: Subaru

CultureRate:Ad and CultureRate:Brand are major initiatives that provide a research solution to brands’ mounting need for comprehensive, ongoing analysis of the cultural fluency of branding and advertising.

Download an excerpt of the study.

In this CultureRate:Ad study we had the opportunity to test a recent ad by Subaru called “Girls’ Trip,” released in September 2020.

In this video, a granddaughter and her grandmother hit the road in their Subaru  for  a “girls’ trip.” They enjoy the journey together and have fun along the way by dancing in the car and stopping for milkshakes. Grandma even gets the number from a cute guy at the gas station for her granddaughter. Once they arrive back home, the video shows Grandma’s “old school” Subaru parked in the driveway, a nod to the brand’s reliability. Grandma remarks with pride how her granddaughter has taken after her by getting her own (newer) Subaru.

This ad struck a joyful, relatable, and authentic tone, making it a hit with consumers.

This ad was also one of the highest-performing auto ads of the set, ranking within the top two for each racial/ethnic consumer segment. The ad resonated with three out of four consumer segments – Hispanic, Black, and White. This means that the ad had an A-CFQ (Ad Cultural Fluency Quotient) score of 75 or higher for each of those segments. Even more, the A-CFQ score was just on the cusp of the resonance threshold for the Asian consumer segment.

According to consumers, the top performing features of this ad were its characters and story.

The two women in the ad had a close, heartwarming bond. They look and act authentically and viewers responded positively. Plus, their relationship helps convey the brand’s tagline: “Love is what makes Subaru, Subaru.”

The ad’s heartwarming tone resulted in high rates of positive emotions across segments, like happiness, excitement, and pride. In particular, Subaru’s ad outperforms most auto ads in evoking happiness. 56% of viewers said the Subaru’s ad made them feel happy, compared to the automotive ad norm of just 34%.

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Serena and Toni Battle it Out for Bumble and Toyota

Serena and Toni Battle it Out for Bumble and Toyota

We’ve been busy delivering a CultureRate:Ad analysis of pre-released Super Bowl LIII ads. From Coke & Pepsi to alcoholic beverages to snack foods, our research digs deeper into what worked and what didn’t for a nationally representative sample of American consumers (n = 3068).

Download a Free Sample of the Research

Your free download contains facial tracking highlights of the Bumble and Toyota ads. The full 36-page report and 1200-word blog post available to members contains an overview of the emotional strategies, an analysis of the drivers of positive response to ads by each demographic, and more details on polarization driven by the ads.

Final Scores - Superbowl Study

Through our analysis we identified three areas of big learnings:

    1. Emotional Strategy
    2. Polarization
    3. Purchase Intent

Before you go deeper with the download above, take a look at the ads and summaries of the Bumble and Toyota’s Super Bowl spots we reviewed below:

Bumble hopes your relationship score starts at love-love

Bumble’s 30-second ad features tennis giant Serena Williams, whose success story has also served well in Nike campaigns. The creative team behind the ad was also predominantly female, only reinforcing the message of female empowerment in modern relationships.

Toyota explores a road never before taken

Toyota’s minute-long spot features Antoinette “Toni” Harris, the first woman to ever receive a full ride football scholarship for a non-specialist position (and the second woman ever to receive an American football scholarship, to boot). Toyota employed a dedicated multicultural creative agency for this spot, so we were interested in seeing how their execution drove responses across segments.

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