With the number of used cars for sale increasing every year, Cadmus/O'Keefe in Richmond, Va., has landed a client that provides information on those pre-owned vehicles.
Carfax in Fairfax, Va., has not previously had an agency-of-record relationship, reported agency president Matt Thornhill.
Sources said the account is expected to bill in excess of $1 million. This is due, in part, to the fact that Carfax is planning to expand its services to consumers, as well as its present audience of used car dealers.
How the client's service works is simple. Prospective car buyers provide Carfax with the identification number of the vehicle they are considering. Within minutes, they will know if the car was ever salvaged, flood damaged, how many times and where it has had a title change, and the odometer readings at the time of the transfer.
"You have cases where a car with a history is taken to another state and given a clean title," said Thornhill. "That way someone can hide the bad history of a car."
Until now the service, offered to dealerships under contract for $5 per search and individual buyers for $12.50, was used by dealers to check on cars they were considering adding to their inventory. A bad report would kill a deal; a good report was something extra they could show a buyer who might be wary about buying a used car.
Because this will be the first time Carfax has taken its services directly to buyers, the agency's options are varied.
"We're going to do a little bit of everything for them," said Thornhill. "We'll be doing some TV, some print and some guerrilla marketing. We'll try to get their message showing up in places where people buying a used car might be."
The agency will also be "enhancing" the firm's Web site.
"A year from now, when anyone is thinking about buying a used car, they'll think of Carfax," Thornhill said, "or we haven't done our job."