Clark Wood, VP/marketing, says the new campaign--which includes TV ads, interactive elements, product integration, and sponsorship-based promotions--is the realization of a trend that began over a year ago: dealers who have sold used cars through AutoTrader had also begun selling their new cars that way. "We have been loading new-car inventory on the system for a year and a half," he says.
Wood says AutoTrader differs from new-car comparison sites like those run by MSN and Yahoo because it lets consumers sift, compare and examine actual cars and trucks on dealer lots, bypassing the need to configure a vehicle, and then see which dealer responds with a car or truck that matches that description or comes close.
"Most of the sites that have new-car information don't have actual new-car inventory in their systems," says Wood. "Consumers want to compare real inventory on dealers' lots. And [they] don't want to go to a dealership if the actual car they want isn't there."
The campaign, via Doner, Detroit, illustrates this with an eight-story-tall guy called "Big Guy," who walks around town picking up cars from different dealer lots and comparing them side by side as if they were toys. Actor Christian Slater provides voiceover in the spot, which starts May 5.
The ad hits 19 channels--including Adult Swim, A&E, Comedy Central, Discovery, Discovery HD, E!, FX, HGTV, MTV, Spike!, and TNT.
A product-integration deal demonstrates the AutoTrader new-vehicle shopping process on Comedy Central's "Friday Night Standup" and SpikeTV's "PowerBlock." For the latter, "PowerBlock" star Courtney Hansen shops for a new Ford Mustang with AutoTrader. E! is also creating a series of AutoTrader.com-branded features entitled "Celebs and Cars" in which celebrities talk about their rides. Radio spots will air in over 20 markets.
AutoTrader, which is involved in NBA pro hoops through sponsorship of "Top Off Show" on TNT, NBA TV, and NBA.com, will use that association to tout the program via an online fantasy league. The promo dangles $25,000 toward the purchase of any new vehicle on AutoTrader.com. Messaging will run on NBA mobile alerts and NBA.com promotions.
"One thing that sports does for us real well is to get to the key neighborhood influencers--car experts," says Wood. A trade effort aimed at dealers will accompany the campaign. "We have about 20,000 dealers participating in the business today. And I would say out of that, over 10,000 are new-car franchises."