SANTA MONICA, Calif. — TrueCar Inc., which publishes new- and used-car pricing information, trends and forecasts, debuted its “Smart Consumer” print and TV ad campaign this week. It highlights a new consumer experience developed in cooperation with the TrueCar Dealer Council and auto industry experts.
The campaign is a result of “a transformation in the company’s culture brought about by our listening and learning,” said TrueCar President and CEO Scott Painter.
“It’s about fairness for both buyers and sellers,” he added. “TrueCar delivers clear data for auto dealers to supply a fair deal, and consumers receive similar pricing data that empowers and educates. The result creates a balanced process and a trust-based buying experience, between the consumer and dealer, which is precisely the message relayed by our new ads and our website.”
The $7.7 million campaign, developed by DW+H in Santa Monica, Calif., includes multiple formats. The campaign is designed to position TrueCar as a national brand and is being delivered in all U.S. media markets simultaneously. The TV spots, with fast-cut driving sequences and computer-generated graphics, are designed to reflect what Painter said is TrueCar’s “Institutional obligation to provide the most accurate, comprehensive and insightful data ever published about automotive transactions.”
TrueCar’s first foray into the TV ad arena was November 2011. While the ads were well-received by consumers, it caused genuine concern among dealers and manufacturers due to the focus on discounted prices. “We never intended for TrueCar Certified Dealers to become associated with heavy discounting,” said Painter. “TrueCar does not sell cars, nor do we set prices; we provide market-based information that helps buyers and sellers to recognize a fair price.”
In conjunction with the newly developed web experience and consumer advertising campaign, TrueCar has developed a suite of market-based analytical tools that will provide dealers and manufacturers with the ability to leverage the power of transactional data as they tap into the science of pricing to gain customer trust while retaining margin. “This is a fundamental shift in how dealers set prices that can result in a win-win,” says Painter.
Beginning in early 2012, a TrueCar Dealer Council of industry specialists was formed to offer insights and expertise. The result was an overhaul of consumer-facing products and services at TrueCar.com, which shifted the way dealers interact with the site, and a new crop of experienced auto experts was added to the management team. Painter and company then previewed their new ads for auto dealers, automakers and industry insiders, taking all the input and modifying the final cut.
TrueCar was founded in 2005 and began making a profit by 2009. The TrueCar Dealer Network currently consists of more than 5,200 certified dealers nationally. Certified dealer levels reached more than 5,700 before the 2011 ad campaign and went as low as 3,200 by March 2012.
During the past seven years, TrueCar has also developed relationships with 350 affinity and employer partners (including USAA, American Express and multiple credit unions), helping their members, customers and employees receive a positive car-buying experience from TrueCar Certified Dealers.
“Everybody intuitively understands how powerful this information can be, and as a result of consumer relevance, we had to invest heavily in making TrueCar more balanced,” said Painter. “The idea of ‘leveling the playing field’ must be sustainable for both parties and TrueCar had to learn that lesson the hard way over the past year. The industry demanded balance, we listened and the new TrueCar results in fairness for everyone and confidence that nobody will be making a mistake on such an important decision.”