AutoTrader looks for a home run in 'Drive to a New Start' campaign

ATLANTA: AutoTrader.com's baseball-themed "Drive to a New Start" campaign, which emphasizes the Web site's new cars for sale, is making a final push as the effort heads into its final month and a half.

ATLANTA: AutoTrader.com's baseball-themed “Drive to a New Start” campaign, which emphasizes the Web site's new cars for sale, is making a final push as the effort heads into its final month and a half.

AutoTrader, working with Porter Novelli, said it has increased its online and media outreach for the campaign leading up to the final stop in Atlanta, September 18. The effort, first launched in April, has so far made five stops at Major League Baseball stadiums across the country in part of its move to leverage its sports marketing.

"For the longest time, our company has been known as a used car site," said Mark Scott, senior manager for media relations for AutoTrader.com, which aggregates classified car listings from individuals as well as dealers. "But this year, all of our marketing is aimed at pushing the idea that AutoTrader.com is also a good place to buy a brand new car."

AutoTrader.com, along with 2008 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Rich "Goose" Gossage and a new AutoTrader.com-logoed Chevy Tahoe, are making stops at six stadiums, which have a sponsorship deal with the company, as well as the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. At the events, Gossage has been signing autographs on AutoTrader.com New Car Tip Sheets with his photo and information.

"It's a great piece of memorabilia that [fans] are going to hold on to for a long time," Scott said. "And they will be holding on to our messaging, maybe forever."

In each city, Gossage is also hosting a clinic for kids interested in baseball and encouraging the local professional players to sign the hood of the Chevy Tahoe that will be auctioned off in January 2009. So far, players including Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Ryan Howard have signed the car. For each signature, AutoTrader.com plans to donate $1,000 to a local youth baseball program, up to $75,000.

In reaching out to the target audience—people interested in buying a new car—AutoTrader.com has focused its media outreach on local radio and TV stations, specifically because of the great visuals, Scott said. So far, the campaign has seen an average of eight to10 broadcast hits per city.

Online, AutoTrader.com created a microsite, which tracks the Drive across the country, and includes information about the events and Gossage.

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