AutoTrader Taps 'Overly Attached Girlfriend' In Push

Third-party automotive shopping and research site is bringing in social influencers to extend its "My Car My Way" campaign to younger consumers. The digital effort, via New York-based 360i, ropes in YouTube sensation Laina Morris, who brings her "Overly-Attached Girlfriend" persona to AutoTrader's digital program to tout its new personalized auto shopping features. 

The Atlanta-based company launched the first chapter of the umbrella campaign June 9, with ads featuring Dukes of Hazzard characters. In the new chapter of the campaign, Morris’ stalker-like character looks for a new car so her boyfriend won't know she's following him.  



The campaign showcases several new features at AutoTrader: the ability to do feature-based searches (rather than car model or type searches) across mobile devices; save car searches; and get real-time price alerts on any device when you aren't actually searching on AutoTrader. The campaign is supported by display, video and organic and paid social efforts, as well as custom media partnerships targeting key audiences, per the company. The effort culminates with a scavenger hunt with Morris doing another video directing her fans -- and car shoppers -- to to follow the clues with a chance to win the car she has chosen for her automotive stealth-stalking venture. 

Jessica Stafford, senior director of consumer marketing at the Atlanta-based, tells Marketing Daily that "Your Car Your Way" is all about personalization in the research and shopping world. 

"We want to fit your lifestyle. In the past [car shopping on third-party sites] has been based on make and model, but the way our site works now is you can search by features first, with the results delivering cars that match your needs. Then you can put together your search criteria and save them, and AutoTrader will keep shopping and sending price alerts. And you can pick up the search on any device." 

She says the move to enlist YouTube celebs and influencers like Morris makes sense both because it infuses personality into the brand and because it brings an automatic audience. Morris, also known for ersatz observations about things like rappers having chronic dry lips and itchy noses, has over a million YouTube subscribers, and 332,000 Facebook fans. "It makes us relatable beyond just functional utility,” says Stafford. “And we get her fan base as an audience." She says Morris helped develop the creative script for the video and 360i also did production, although she consulted on that as well so it was authentic to what she does." Her AutoTrader video has gotten over 71,700 views since posting on her YouTube site yesterday. 

When it comes to the increasing use of mobile devices, AutoTrader may have increasing competition from dealerships, of all places. Dave Winslow, chief digital strategist at auto retail sales technology provider, tells Marketing Daily  that there has been a sharp increase in consumers shopping dealer Web sites on mobile devices, up by 271% versus June of last year. 

"There hadn't been a lot of engagement on these devices before. Consumers would visit dealerships. They are actually shopping on these devices now. What it says is that they are engaging third-party sites, but they are also going to dealer sites more and more as well." He says one reason is dealers have gotten better at using their sites to offer pricing transparency, reviews and ratings, and better vehicle details." Both Winslow and AutoTrader say consumers are visiting 24 digital touchpoints before going into dealerships to purchase. "It's really scattered between third-party sites, and information and news sites and dealer sites.

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