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AutoTrader.com Helps Influencers Find Cars

  |  July 7, 2014   |  Comments

The campaign, which includes the Internet's Overly Attached Girlfriend and a technology vlogger, underscores the importance of choosing relevant partners and supporting influencer-based activations, insiders say.

Online automotive marketplace AutoTrader.com has teamed up with so-called influencers that need cars in an effort aimed at conveying to young car buyers that they can use the site, and some of its zippy new features, to find cars on their own terms.

The motley group of fictional, Internet-famous, and real-life characters includes the Dukes of Hazzard as well as Overly Attached Girlfriend Laina Morris and tech lifestyle vlogger Lamarr Wilson.

The campaign demonstrates how new AutoTrader tools - like text alerts for price drops or for new cars and the ability to use multiple devices - allow users to shop for the perfect car without interfering with their lives, the brand says.

The Dukes of Hazzard component includes actors Tom Wopat and John Schneider, who played Luke and Bo Duke in the TV series, in three broadcast TV spots, as well as in radio, cinema, digital, and out-of-home elements.

AutoTrader's program with Morris, who has gained a following of more than 1.1 million YouTube subscribers and 426,000 Facebook fans as Justin Bieber's Overly Attached Girlfriend, is targeted specifically at Millennials and is focused more on digital and social elements.

In addition to an AutoTrader video in which the Overly Attached Girlfriend "jumps from a car search while creeping in her boyfriend's e-mail to her own iPad with ease," viewers are also invited on a scavenger hunt to search for her vehicle. Participants look for clues on the My Car My Way website, which provides search criteria and additional clues.

The site also says more content will follow in August from Wilson, whose "passion for tech and AutoTrader [will] help find your car, your way."

According to Jessica Stafford, senior director of consumer marketing for AutoTrader.com, the Dukes of Hazzard have a logical need for a new car.

doh-new01"The world around them is modern-day and the sheriff is faster, so they need a new car. Their old friend is not keeping up," she says. "Even while being chased and taking off of ramps, they use mobile devices throughout the campaign in order to find the car that makes sense."

The various characters appeal to different audiences, AutoTrader says.

"While, yes, the Dukes characters are nostalgic for many, we think that the campaign message transcends the old show and that new fans will be drawn in by the action-based storyline," Stafford says. "While there are digital and social elements to the Dukes creative, it wasn't designed from the ground up to be a socially focused campaign in the same way that the Laina program is."

The video featuring the Overly Attached Girlfriend explains why she needs a new car while "being authentic and relatable to her audience," Stafford says.

The brand looked at more than 25 influencers and found a fit with Morris because she has "the right combination of a plausible need...and a warm personality that her fans relate to and trust," Stafford says.

According to Stafford, more than one-third of visitors to AutoTrader.com are Millennials and, in 10 years, 40 percent of cars will be purchased by Millennials.

"We're really trying to in this specific piece to target Millennials, relate to them in their space, be as authentic as we can with a story that makes sense, and add personality," she says.

Benjamin Spiegel, senior partner and managing director of strategy at advertising media company GroupM, says YouTube celebrities are great -particularly when it comes to lifestyle brands. However, when it comes to driving conversions, downloads, and sign-ups, he says influencers have to be relevant and questions the strength of the tie between the Dukes of Hazzard and Millennials, as well as the Overly Attached Girlfriend and cars.

"If Justin Bieber's girlfriend tells me how to purchase a car and where, I do not believe it is the right type of activation," he says. "It might be for a certain audience, but what can she actually get them to do? A celebrity endorsement like Jennifer Lopez for CoverGirl or skincare makes sense, but auto purchasing? Not so much. We believe that just because someone is influential is not generally the most effective approach."

Brands also need to make sure they have support to drive assets like this.

"I'm currently in the research phase for a car for my wife, but I have not come across the Dukes boys," Spiegel says. "You can have a great campaign, but you have to make sure people can actually reach it and connect about it. You can have a great landing page with all these videos and clips, but for someone deeply involved in the auto as well as the media field, I have not seen this campaign."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa Lacy

In addition to ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, Lisa's work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.

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