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Holden will give you $500 if you buy a rival car

Holden describes the offer as "a bold move but one we do with confidence".

In what must surely rank as one of the strangest and most confident sales promotions of recent memory, Holden will give you $500 to buy another brand’s car.

Yes, you read that right. But it's easiest, perhaps, to let Holden explain.

“Holden is evolving, no question. The new vehicle line-up is fantastic and we challenge new-car buyers to experience how good they are and form their own opinion,” says Holden’s marketing director, Kristian Aquilina.

"We’re so confident in them, we’re willing to put $500 down if they go on to buy something else.”

Here’s the deal; you’re in the market for a new car, and so you test drive a Holden. If you then decide to buy a car from another brand instead, Holden will give you $500. In doing so, Holden has upped the ante on rival Ford, which offered a similar deal in 2014, offering $200 to anyone who test drove one of its cars but ended up buying one from another brand.

Holden is attempting to arrest a worrying slide in sales in Australia, with the brand’s total sales down 22.6 per cent year to date, with Holden moving 32,614 units to June this year, down from 42,113 over the same period in 2017, and from 48,010 in 2016.

There are bright spots on the Holden horizon, though, with sales of the brand’s Trailblazer, Trax and Equinox SUVs all heading in the right direction.

“It’s a bold move but one we do with confidence,” says Aquilina. “We know this is the best range of cars we’ve offered and in terms of safety, technology, customer service, value and that famous Holden driving spirit, we can’t be beaten.”

It seems marketing madness, sure, but data goes some way to backing up their pledge. A 2014 study out of the USA involving 2000 shoppers found that 49 per cent of buyers either skipped a test drive altogether, or they purchased the only car they tested. Another 25 per cent tested just two cars, while 26 per cent tested up to seven vehicles before making their choice. Holden will surely be hoping those numbers ring true in Australia, too.

Part of the new marketing push will see Holden focusing on the expertise of its local engineering team as a reason to purchase one of its cars, with engineers Rob Trubiani (responsible for Commodore development for 22 years), Melanie Pollock (pictured) and Ben Stephens all appearing in the new commercials.

"Who better to talk about how good our cars are than the local engineers who play a huge role in developing all Holdens, getting them just right for Australian drivers,” Aquilina says.

A final caveat; Holden says "conditions apply", so perhaps best to check brand's website before you start mentally spending the money.

Marketing magic or madness? Tell us in the comments below.