CASSIES Grand Prix: AutoTrader boasts the most cars in one place

An online reimagination saves the brand from an existential threat.

GRAND PRIX  GOLD: Off to a Good Start

Situation Analysis For more than 25 years AutoTrader magazine was the go-to source for Canadians looking to buy and sell used vehicles. Then came the internet and suddenly Canadians had thousands of auto listings at their fingertips. AutoTrader first tried to augment its magazine offering with online content, but market share was bleeding to sites like Craigslist and Kijiji. The turning point came when AutoTrader went 100% digital. Starting last February with a limited budget, the brand set out to make itself a must-visit for dealers, consumers and anyone else buying or selling a used car.

Strategy & Insight A deep dive into the brand discovered that had the largest car inventory in the country, a truth that could be used as a silver bullet. Qualitative research confirmed that having more cars than the competition was highly motivating and reassuring to consumers.

Execution The insight translated creatively into “The Most Cars in One Place,” and quickly became the lifeblood of the brand. TV launched the campaign, depicting a humorous world where was the place to buy or sell a vehicle no matter the reason. This was followed by radio, online, social media, PR and B2B advertising efforts. An app called AutoLyzer was developed to analyze real-time Facebook data around lifestyle, interests and social activities to narrow down which cars would be the best fit.

Results In the six months after launch, traffic to the site rose 18% over the previous year, with 27% growth in monthly unique visitors and a 76% increase in page views. The Facebook page saw an 126% rise in fans – and the conversation about the brand on Twitter rose 47%. Attracting more dealer and private listings to the site was a key objective, and growth targets of 10% and 25%, respectively, were beaten handily. Dealer listings rose 18% and private listings 113% over the previous year.

Cause & Effect Advertising was the only activity that could explain the results. There was a direct correlation between the advertising schedule and traffic patterns to the site. Unaided awareness for increased by 4% and positive sentiment toward the brand, as measured through its Net Promoter Score, rose to 31%.


Cient: AutoTrader
President: Sebastien Baldwin
VP of user experience: Seth Brody
Consultant: Randy Wagner
Director of consumer marketing: Ian MacDonald
Brand manager: Nicole Lougheed
Head of B2B marketing: Isabel Tremblay
Agency: DDB Canada
CDs: Denise Rossetto, Todd Mackie
Copywriters: Daniel Bonder, Allan Topol
AD:  Pete Ross
SVP, business unit director: Michael Davidson
SVP, director of strategic planning: Tony Johnstone
Account director: Peter Brough
Account supervisor: Carly Sutherland
Senior account executive: Julia Morris
Account coordinator: Lindy Scott
Broadcast producer: Andrew Schulze
Digital producers: Luc Quartarone, Trish Quenneville
Strategist: Kevin McHugh
PR manager: James Loftus
PR supervisor: Gabrielle Totesau
Senior PR consultant: Erin Bodley
Senior consultant: Greg Vallentin
Senior cultivator: Melissa Smich
B2B creative director: Barb Williams
B2B art director: Italo Siciliano
Production company: Radke Films
Colourist: Alter Ego
Post production company: School Editing
Audio production company: Grayson Matthews
Director, Radke Films: Chris Hooper
DOP/cinematographer, Radke Films: Jon Hauptman
Editor: Chris Van Dyke, School Editing
Director of Technology: Joe Dee
Facebook app production company: Superfad
Executive producer, Radke Films: Scott Mackenzie
Media Agency: OMD
Managing director, digital: Shane Cameron
Associate group director, strategy: Sean Dixon
Director, direct marketing & integrated solutions: Rob Kuwahara