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I'm not commenting one way or the other on recent discussions regarding Carfax's advertising campaigns. The only thing that I will say is that it sure has garnered a lot of interest from the community. If dealers are being represented poorly in an ad campaign they should respond and vehemently defend themselves, right? Makes sense, until you see this...

Enter Microsoft IE 10 from stage left...


I'm a big fan of self-deprecating humor, most likely because I'm such an easy target, but I don't even know about this. Is it funny? Yes. Does it make me want to drop Firefox and download IE? You might be surprised.

I took the bait and got hooked. I was thinking to myself, "How in the world can this HELP Microsoft? How do you advertise a negative perception of your product and turn it into a positive?" Guess what, Microsoft is using reviews... WIRED, Gizmodo, TechCrunch, Mashable, Ars Technica, ZDNet... Trusted sources that are endorsing their experience with IE10, some reinforcing that the experience is FAR BETTER than they thought it would be.

I'm not suggesting that you hit the airwaves with an "Our Dealership SUCKS... Less" campaign, but I do think it is interesting and worth considering that there is a reason that a campaign like that is effective for other advertisers. Domino's Pizza did a similar thing not too long ago.

When asked to rate the honesty and ethical standards of people from different fields on the most recent GALLUP Poll, unfortunately public perception of the car salesperson hasn't changed  since 1976. The dubious distinction of least trustworthy is still ours to claim, and add insult to injury, not even a much maligned Representative of Congress in a year full of mudslinging political ads can unseat our industry's front line representatives.  You can see the poll here. It is debatable whether or not Carfax is perpetuating a stereotype, but we can say with certainty that they aren't responsible for creating that stereotype, they are merely tapping into an existing distrust the industry continues to combat. If tapping into that distrust is working for them, can it work for you?

Here's the final thought: Would it help to take a WebPage out of Microsoft's book and start from a position of unlikely agreement? Might it put your unsold prospects at ease to say, "Mr. Customer, you've probably heard that this is going to be a horrible experience, right? That we're out to get you, and want your firstborn even, am I right? Well, here are 100 people just like you that didn't have THAT experience HERE at XYZ motors, and I am going to do everything I can to make sure YOU are number 101. Sound Good?"

Views: 269

Tags: Reputation, Reviews


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Comment by Big Tom LaPointe on December 11, 2012 at 8:55am

and yes, BB is headed the way of the dodo bird and aol

Comment by Big Tom LaPointe on December 11, 2012 at 8:54am

it's funny - i posted a link to one of the car sales badger videos on our fb page ( as an example of what a dealer wouldn't want handling chat conversations. but looking at this again, campaigns like the badger and trunk monkey kind of insult the industry as a whole. yes there ARE dealers with well-crafted gamesmanship and crappy customer service attitudes, but by and large, it's folks trying to make a living.

Comment by Ryan Leslie on December 5, 2012 at 5:16am

Thanks for the comment Tom. I remember that Dominos campaign seeming a little crazy to me too at the time. This feels like the kind of thing you do as a last resort to save a brand,  marketing's version of the "Nuclear Option" if you will. I wonder if the Blackberry Execs have their finger on this button?


Comment by Big Tom LaPointe on December 4, 2012 at 7:47pm

like the direction dominos took with the reformulation of their pizza. bass-ackwards way to market. maybe an ok route for a mainstream commodity product, but but i have a hard time picturing lexus saying, "we know we make the most boringist cars on the road, so we came out with the new sporty GS".

interesting that both brands probably have gen y2k as their primary audience. what does that say about that market segment? great piece, though. i have actually been known to make light of our seedy traditions - "i tried to throw the keys on the roof, but they wouldn't stay" "let me get your trade appraised - we have the car crusher from the VACATION movie here so we can make sure you go home in the family truckster."

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