TrueCar Campaign Drives Transparency Message


A month or so ago TrueCar CEO Scott Painter was in town with creatives from TrueCar AOR Santa Monica-based DW+H, which serves both as TrueCar's agency and marketing think-tank. 

The idea was to gauge press and industry observers' thoughts on a forthcoming campaign. But it wasn't a story pitch -- it was about our opinions. One thing that was immediately obvious was that the ads were very different from last year's campaign: static, and somewhat clotted images with graphs, screens and people looking at computers. And it tilted toward consumers. That's an issue because the company does something of a balancing act between dealers and shoppers, so it's supposed to be a win-win platform. The company says it lost 40% of its business after that. 

The new "Let's Talk Truth" effort positions the company as a no-B.S. real-price site, with the message that there's nothing under the table in the pricing structure. The ads show cars driving on highways, past buildings in neighborhoods and whatnot, under blue skies. A visual analogy for how TrueCar works is achieved by superimposing pricing, graphs, and other data so that they seem to follow cars. It was a work in progress so press couldn't talk about it. Now we can.

The Santa Monica, Calif.-based company, which publishes new and used car pricing, trends and forecasts, has rolled out the print and TV campaign, plus a new Web site using that creative. Central to the whole thing is a focus on TrueCar's unique position because of its relationship with dealers, as a channel guaranteeing that what you see is what you get: the actual price. That, theoretically, eliminates a central point of pain for shoppers: fear of the haggle. 

“Consumers generally fear the process of buying a car. Nobody wants to be a sucker and overpay," said Painter in a release. He added that the platform works by giving prices that others have paid for similar cars in their area and telling dealers who's offering what in their area. "We certainly understand that dealers have to sell their product at sustainable prices. TrueCar is dedicated to developing this ideal consumer-dealer balance.”

The firm says the $7.5 million campaign comprises a 60-second brand positioning spot, several 30-second executions on national cable, and print in the auto vertical. 

The company notes that it also changed things inside, including hiring a raft of industry “TrueCar has transformed in less than a year, enhancing our product, staff and the way we work with auto buyers and dealers,” says Painter. “It was painful financially and at one point we’d dropped about 2,500 dealer-partners, but we’ve rebounded nicely."

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