AutoTrader Journeys Into Heart & Mind In New Campaign


Automotive commerce site launches a campaign Monday for its new-vehicle channel. A TV spot evolves the site's "Heart & Mind" campaign by combining elements of the original two ads introduced last year.

The effort combines elements from that campaign, which was comprised of two TV spots: one showing cars racing through a guy's cardiovascular system ("heart"), decreasing in number as the shopper winnows his choices (finally settling on a Chevy Traverse); and a second showing cars racing along a shopper's neurons ("mind"), as he makes rational choices.

The new ad shows vehicles racing along both the shopper's arteries and cerebral synapses, flashing into non-existence as he narrows his choices to the vehicle he wants. The company says the idea is that shopping for a vehicle involves both the heart and mind, and AutoTrader is the place where the two meet.



The spot will appear on NBA Playoff telecasts, plus networks like HGTV, USA, Lifetime, Adult Swim and History. The effort includes original programming and a spotlight called "DVD on FX" about the site's new car shopping process.

The company says it will also run radio ads on ESPN, Premier, Westwood One and Dial. Two radio spots touting the virtues of will have a message similar to the TV ads.

"We wanted the new spot to emphasize new cars because that business is critical for us, and we are right in the middle of the new car auto recovery," said an spokesperson. says it is also doing an extensive online campaign to support the effort with targeted banner ads, video ads, search engine marketing and social media. The TV spot is running on the company's YouTube channel as well as on Yahoo Autos, AOL Autos, and other sites via such ad networks as Undertone, Tremor and YouMe.

The ad campaign touts AutoTrader's use of real photos of new cars on dealers' lots; the ability to search by make, model, color, price, options and special offers; detailed descriptions; and a review, research and compare area.

Media spend among major consumer-facing third-party automotive sites -- a category that in addition to, includes Edmunds. com,,, and -- is likely to heat up in coming months. The newest player in the realm,, is preparing a campaign to build awareness. 

Jesse Toprak, head of industry analysis for, says going wide and deep is necessary for any automotive commerce site that wants to reach beyond a core base of enthusiasts. "It's a critical way to raise awareness," he says. He adds that the biggest investment for a lot of auto sites has been in online media, including targeted ads and search. "But there is a limit to the number of people you can reach online. If you are truly going to enhance the brand and build awareness, you are going to have to be on TV. To get beyond that core -- to become a household name -- means spending the money for TV."

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