Fountain Tire finds humour in a failure to communicate

The auto service chain pokes fun at the confusion that can arise from "shop talk" to showcase its own service standards.

Fountain Tire knows there’s a lot of room for confusion and mistrust when the average car owner speaks to a mechanic about their vehicle. In fact, that’s the driving insight behind the auto service shop’s new campaign.

“Any time there’s a language barrier, whether it’s between a multilingual grandmother and her family or a technician and a driver, a lack of communication creates tension, frustration, powerlessness and mistrust,” explains Josh Haupert, ACD at FCB Canada, which helped develop the campaign. “Those are obviously not emotions you want when you’re relinquishing your vehicle and spending a lot of money on something you might not even understand.”

At the heart of the campaign is a new 30-second spot that shows a car owner and mechanic having a conversation. The mechanic uses acronyms, slang and “shop talk” to explain what’s wrong with the driver’s car as the driver tries to feign understanding to increasingly awkward and humorous results.

“The human condition is that we don’t like to reveal our hand,” says Haupert. “If we don’t know what someone’s talking about, the last thing we want to say is that we don’t know what they’re talking about. That goes beyond mechanic talk – it’s an insight about all of us.”

The humorous approach to a serious topic is familiar for Fountain Tire, which “has always used humour as part of their DNA,” says John Pace, group account director at FCB Canada.

“When you think about auto service in general, it’s often a super stressful moment for the driver. They’re going there because their car has broken down and everybody knows they’re going to get hit with a bill of some sort,” he adds. “We use humour as a device to calm nerves and take the edge off.”

Last fall, the company and FCB Canada launched a campaign to introduce its Digital Vehicle Report (DVR) service, a tool that can identify problem areas on vehicles – whether they be current or potential future issues – and help Fountain Tire employees explain in plain language what that information means to the car owner.

This year’s campaign is a logical extension of that one, and the DVR service makes an appearance in this year’s spot as one tool that Fountain Tire employees use to help customers make sense of the work their car needs.

The fully-integrated campaign will run through the fall and winter across all major touchpoints. Guru Communications handled the media planning and buying.