Martin Tells the Strange Truths About Used Cars

TV, Radio Campaign for Carfax Reveals How Not to Buy a Lemon
ATLANTA–So this dog is driving a pick-up truck. The hound, a bluetick, notices a flight of ducks from the side of a country road and takes off after them, eventually plunging its master, cringing in the passenger seat, into a pond.
Then there’s a grim-faced granny’s attempt to back her sedan out of a garage, which turns into a full-blown demolition derby.
Finally, a shrieking madman driving backwards on twisting California blacktop is trying to turn back the car odometer.
After each television spot, a voiceover: “People do strange things to cars. That’s why there’s Carfax. We give you the real history of used cars.”
The three TV ads spearhead The Martin Agency’s new $20 million campaign for Carfax, a Internet-accessible database containing the histories of millions of used cars. Intended to be memorable and intrusive, the work is designed to resonate with anyone who has ever bought a lemon and wants to avoid that unhappy experience in the future.
“The product cuts a wide swath through our population,” said Hal Tench, a group creative director at Martin in Richmond, Va. “If you take wide cuts, people want over the top. As long as it’s connected to something that’s relevant, you can’t be over the top enough.”
Carfax, based in Fairfax Va., is a wholly owned subsidiary of R.L Polk, a privately held market research company specializing in the auto industry. Its vast database and the easy access provided by the Internet are driving its move from business-to-business to the consumer market.
A series of six 30-second national radio commercials complements the television campaign, which breaks today.
Martin copywriter Raymond McKinney and art director Ty Harper collaborated on the spots, which were directed by Los Angeles-based Bruce Hurwitt of Crossroads Production Co.