Plus Smith: ‘Buy Happy’ at Brown’s

ATLANTA Plus Smith’s recent win of Brown’s Car Dealership has boosted the fledgling agency’s billings to $10 million, according to the shop.

Agency founder Matt Smith said his Falls Church, Va., shop, which is housed in a former automotive garage, was invited to pitch the dealership’s dot-com business in a review against four area contenders.

“We said, ‘You can’t just do the dot-com, it’s the whole brand,'” Smith said. “We wound up with newspaper print, the dot-com, radio and events. We sold them a big idea and it changed the whole pitch.”

The Fairfax, Va.-based client, a group of 22 dealerships with locations in Baltimore, Northern Virginia, and Richmond and Charlottesville, Va., sells a variety of brands including Saab, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Dodge.

“What distinguishes them is the straight-forward pricing and low-pressure sales approach,” said Smith. “That’s what unifies them, too.”

“Buy Happy” was the theme of the shop’s presentation. “The idea is that you should be as happy buying a car as having one,” said Smith, adding that Brown’s is different than low-pressure competitor CarMax because consumers can negotiate prices. “Customers are in control when they shop [at Brown’s].”

Plus Smith broke its first ads during a recent blizzard, when an 18-inch snowfall created an opportunity to unite several brands for a sales event that played off of the inclement weather. “We were still in the planning stages when the snow hit and we realized we could hold a 4 by 4 event,” said Smith. Newspaper ads carried the headline, “What a perfect day for a test drive.”

“All their brands have 4 by 4 options, so we tied them together and focused on how consumers buy,” Smith said.

Smith said he would use the confusion and clutter of a newspaper’s automotive section as part of the media plan. “We’re requesting that our ads be in the thick of the loudest screaming ads,” he said. “Then we’ll run a clean ad with the line, ‘Getting a headache?'”