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Is the next vendor to trash car dealers?

As TrueCar works to reposition itself as more dealer-friendly, and CarFax comes under continued scrutiny for charging dealers for the right to be chastised on the airwaves, released teaser ads and focus group clips for their expensive Super Bowl campaign, according to an Automotive News article published today:

To their credit, they make light of the challenges of car shopping with tongue in cheek suggestions that shoppers actually WANT more drama. But it feels like yet another major vendor is investing dealer fees to bite the hands that feed them.  Here is the dramatized focus group video from youtube:

Tom LaPointe
Interactive Media Manager / Industry Analyst
24/7 Interactive Automotive Dealer Website Chat Solutions
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Tags: 3rd, auto, car,, leads, marketing, party, sales, super bowl


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Comment by Big Tom LaPointe on January 25, 2013 at 5:58am

@Linda Bartman - I appreciate your response here, and I withhold final criticism until the campaign actually airs, BUT, at the end of the day - the message seems to STILL portray the industry in general as creating undue drama - unless they are part of the 'special group'. Is that not correct? That would not be a problem if there is no interest in adding these 'DRAMATIC' dealers to your client list.

Is your sales team going to be pitching services because they offer the best value for their online marketing efforts, or so they can be perceived as imposing LESS DRAMA on buyers???

Comment by jim leonard on January 23, 2013 at 8:24am

We just dumped, yesterday.   They just did nothing for us.  In our market Autotrader and do us a much better job.  But I personally agree with the suggestions of several here,  Im tired of my profession being trashed,  We are lied to daily by many customers more than we have ever lied to them.  There is no benefit for me or my people  to lie, A car is a car, Ive done my best to make sure the car is the best for them, Then I offer them service agreement, by doing those two things, Ive done my job.   =-)  back to work.

Comment by Dave Erickson on January 22, 2013 at 12:26pm

In looking at the landing site and watching the teaser it seems that the "no drama" selection leads the shopper to fill out an inquiry and the "drama" portion might eventually be filled with awkward situations or something. It will be interesting to see the superbowl commercial and what the drama is. Perhaps it will even be totally unrelated to the car business. I guess we'll need to wait and see. 

I'd think that dealers that are signed up with might want to plan on creating a special first response from the leads it generates. I know I will, but it would be next level if helped dealers in some capacity prepare for this since it's the dealers that ultimately help fulfill the final result of the campaign. 

Comment by Alexander Lau on January 22, 2013 at 10:24am

"but when vendors throw dealers under the bus...? jeez"

Your exactly right Tom. I think has highlighted (globally, mind you) a tough issue that dealers try and alleviate. That is, making the overall buying experience easier. has thrown those dealerships that do it well under the bus, by suggesting ALL dealers execute on their sales process poorly.

A suggestion, don't pre-release a teaser piece that knowingly ticks off industry stakeholders, only to let them in on the joke, three weeks later. There's a reason DealerRater is zooming past, especially in the reviews arena. Bad form, from the looks of it, you're doing this to support your own agenda.

Comment by Linda Bartman on January 22, 2013 at 10:03am

Tom, thanks for raising this point. I’m personally very excited about our new campaign because it actually does the opposite of what you’re suggesting.  We did extensive research with both consumers and dealers in developing the “ALL DRIVE, no drama concept,” and what we heard in our focus groups is something everyone here probably deals with on a daily basis: shoppers can be apprehensive about the perceived drama and stress that comes with buying a car.  What we heard from dealers and believe to be true ourselves is that the stereotypes are unfounded, but dealers are challenged to shift that perception and raise awareness of the great experiences they provide at their stores. I think what sets our campaign apart from the others you mention is that we’re addressing both sides of that story.  Without giving too much away (we’re saving the big reveal for game day), the campaign highlights the tools on our site that ease anxiety for consumers, but that also empower dealers to build and showcase their differentiated value and reputations. A great example of this is Dealer Reviews, which are a win-win for shoppers and dealers – in addition to the consumer feedback we get on the importance of Dealer Reviews, there is a positive business impact for customers.  In fact, one dealer shared with us recently that he attributes 10-15% of his sales to reviews.


Automotive News also included another teaser video that previews the campaign and may provide more context – you can find it on this landing page we created for dealer customers


As we develop marketing messaging and campaigns, we look at ourselves as champions of the industry in helping close misconceptions that consumers may have.  My hope is that any concerns will be put to rest when you see the spot during Super Bowl, but please let me know if you have any additional questions or comments.


Best regards,

Linda Bartman

Chief Marketing Officer,

Comment by Big Tom LaPointe on January 22, 2013 at 9:32am

to be fair, yes, of course there are dealers who complicate the process to retain some profit. let's face it, shady trading of transportation goes back centuries with shady horse traders. there are still dealer principals who can trace their heritage back to buggy stores and horse traders. these practices were honed to a fine art and science from the 60's to the 90's. now the tide has turned - and there is no shortage of experts to advise on everything from transaction price to extended warranty purchases.

then, too, buyers have often earned the 'buyers are liars' tag, as well. i had a prominent business owner call me years ago after a grueling 5-hour negotiation that ended with a deposit for a vehicle and a less than nothing deal, only to call the next morning saying his wife was going to divorce him if he took delivery. i saw his name on a cross-sell report 3 days later with the same vehicle. 

but when vendors throw dealers under the bus...? jeez

Comment by David Ruggles on January 22, 2013 at 9:21am

Its time the industry fights back.  We have to quite funding this stuff.

Comment by David Ruggles on January 22, 2013 at 9:20am

I'm still fuming at a recent Edmunds video I received from the Mercedes Benz Owners Club.  It was along the same lines is this one.  It seems Edmunds is fighting us on multiple fronts.  I find NOTHING redeeming about this crap. 

I'd like to get my hands around the neck of whoever decided "transparency" was our objective, not gross profit. 

Comment by Chip Dorman on January 22, 2013 at 8:22am

If we're going to be honest here, a lot of dealers have earned this reputation. That's why dealers who do it right do much better over the long run. And let's not forget, car buyers aren't always exactly honest with dealers...

Comment by Alexander Lau on January 22, 2013 at 7:37am

Dealerships aren't going to find this too funny. Bad marketing, IMO. Like anything else, what starts as a good idea is bastardized along the way.

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