Wanted: New Buyers for Used Cars

Car Corp. of America, the David of automobile superstores against Goliaths like CarMax and AutoNation, is launching the first advertising campaign for its initial outlet today–a print push that spells out its point of difference besides being the little guy.
The Rockville, Md.-based client will spend $1-2 million this year in the Washington, D.C., area. The print series launches the first Car Corp. of America store, which is located in Rockville. Ten additional sites are slated to open in the next four years along the Eastern corridor.
In the new ads, agency Adworks asks the question, “Are you driving the car you really want?” instead of focusing on slashed prices.
“A major point is being overlooked by our competitors,” said Mark Greenspun, creative director and principal of Adworks in Washington, D.C. “There are too many people in the car superstore business to sell them only to used car buyers.”
Greenspun said the ads target baby boomers who do not normally buy used vehicles. The print work also goes after consumers who have never driven the automobile they really want.
The headline of one of three new print ads states, “Look closely and you’ll notice one startling difference between a 1997 and 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee. You can afford one of them.” Body copy adds: “The right used car is a smarter value than a new one.”
Another ad’s headline is: “You have to be either rich or dumb to buy a new car these days. Maybe both.”
Greenspun said that Adworks encouraged the client to carry older cars and provide a 12-month or 12,000-mile warranty.
The print ads currently appear in The Washington Post and several local and regional newspapers. The client is considering area magazines for the next flight of ads. The print work is supported by a radio effort in the Beltway.
Competitor Car Max, owned by Richmond, Va.-based Circuit City, just opened in Laurel, Md., and AutoNation is scheduled to open at least one retail location in the area in 1998.