The Most Cars In One Place


Off to a Good Start (GOLD)

Client Credits: AutoTRADER
Sebastien Baldwin, President
Seth Brody, VP of User Experience
Randy Wagner, Consultant
Ian MacDonald, Director of Consumer Marketing
Nicole Lougheed, Brand Manager
Isabel Tremblay, Head of B2B Marketing

Agency Credits: DDB Canada
Denise Rossetto, Creative Director; Todd Mackie, Creative Director
Michael Davidson, SVP, Business Unit Director
Tony Johnstone, SVP, Director of Strategic Planning
Peter Brough, Account Director; Carly Sutherland, Account Supervisor
Daniel Bonder, Copywriter; Pete Ross, Art Director
Allan Topol, Copywriter
Julia Morris, Senior Account Executive; Lindy Scott, Account Coordinator
Andrew Schulze, Broadcast Producer
Luc Quartarone, Digital Producer; Trish Quenneville, Digital Producer
Kevin McHugh, Strategist
James Loftus, PR Manager
Gabrielle Totesau, PR Supervisor
Erin Bodley, Senior PR Consultant; Greg Vallentin, Senior Consultant
Melissa Smich, Senior Cultivator
Barb Williams, B2B Creative Director
Italo Siciliano, B2B Art Director
Radke Films, Production Company; Alter Ego, Colourist; School Editing, Post Production Company;
Chris Hooper, Director, Radke Films
Jon Hauptman, DOP/Cinematographer, Radke Films
Editor, Chris Van Dyke, School Editing
Joe Dee, Director of Technology
Superfad, Facebook Application Production Company
Scott Mackenzie, Executive Producer, Radke Films
Media Agency: OMD
Shane Cameron, Managing Director, Digital, OMD
Sean Dixon, Associate Group Director, Strategy, OMD
Rob Kuwahara, Director, Direct Marketing & Integrated Solutions, OMD

Crossover Notes:
All winning cases contain lessons that cross over from one case to another. David Rutherford has been identifying these as Crossover Notes since CASSIES 1997. The full set for CASSIES 2013 can be downloaded from the Case Library section at

Crossover Note 1. What the Brand Stands For.
Crossover Note 2. Brand Truths.
Crossover Note 7. Fighting for the Same High Ground.
Crossover Note 9. Turnarounds.
Crossover Note 12. Changing the Goalposts.
Crossover Note 25. Brand Linkage (when should the brand name appear).

To see creative, click on the links that are embedded in the case.


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):February 1 2012 - July 31 2012
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: February 1 2012
Base Period as a Benchmark: February 1 2011 - July 31 2011

a) Overall Assessment

For over 25 years, in nearly every convenience store, one magazine was THE go-to-source for Canadians looking to buy and sell their used vehicles. A part of Canadiana culture, autoTRADER’s print publication business profited from car dealers who listed their used inventory in the magazines to expose their vehicles to a much wider audience. For many years, the formula worked. That is, until a little thing called the Internet came along.

With the shift from print to digital, the autoTRADER magazine format started to become outdated. Suddenly, Canadians had thousands of vehicle listings at their fingertips. autoTRADER made the decision to augment their magazine offering with online, entering the daunting, un-familiar world of e-business. But balancing print with digital was a delicate act, which together with lowered barriers to entry in the market, resulted in consumer market share being eroded to the benefit of pure plays: Craigslist and Kijiji. A turning point for autoTRADER came they decided to go 100% digital  to secure a larger slice of the dealer market, boost consumer traffic and build towards being the number one resource for consumers looking for cars once again. [Crossover Note 12]

With a limited budget for such a big ambition, how could we re-invigorate autoTRADER Canada in the minds of consumers? How would we reposition autoTRADER from a print legacy to a solely digital proposition, and make a compelling and irresistible ‘must visit’ destination for dealers, private consumers and anyone else buying or selling a used car in Canada?

Furthering the challenge, in 2011,'s traffic performance struggled as it steadily declined on an average of -4% on a monthly basis. Site traffic saw a drop of 1,750,000 in a mere 7 months (March 2011 - December 2011), a 31% decrease in total site traffic. On a downward spiral, traffic decreased by as much as 16% in December 2011 alone. 

Thus, the need to quickly re-invigorate the brand and breathe life into its digital offering was critical. [Crossover Note 9]

b) Resulting Business Objectives

In the face of stiff competition from Kijiji and Craigslist, we needed to attract a high volume and high calibre of consumers to the newly revamped Our objective was to not only be the go to place for consumers, but for dealers as well. [Crossover Note 7]

A number of quantifiable core business objectives were identified, including:

- Attract an incremental 500,000 visitors per month in 2012 to supplement the existing traffic

-Increase private seller listings to the site by +25% during the campaign period

-Increase dealer listings to the site by +10% during the campaign period

-Drive traffic growth by +5% specifically in the Western region where traffic levels are low

c) Annual Media Budget
$3 - $4 million

d) Geographic Area
National Canada

a) Analysis and Insight

With traffic to the site slowing dramatically and relentless pressure on the business from Kijiji, the need to re-vitalize and make it relevant in the minds of Canadian car buyers and sellers (specifically dealers) was never more urgent. We needed consumers to recognize autoTRADER as the No. 1 digital automotive destination in Canada and not just printed automotive classifieds. And we needed to do it FAST. [Crossover Note 1]

With no time to waste, the challenge of achieving this dramatic change in the brand’s fortune would require clever thinking, exceptional creativity and a single focused message rooted in a compelling truth.

Through a deep dive into the brand, it was discovered that has the largest car inventory in the country. This was a surprising, relevant, distinguishing, superlative truth that could be used as a compelling, silver bullet for [Crossover Note 2]

Qualitative research confirmed that a site with the most inventory was very motivating and psychologically reassuring to consumers because it made them feel that they had ‘left no stone unturned’ in their quest to find the perfect car.

Having more cars than any other site means attracts the most buyers and sellers. More cars than the competition means the biggest marketplace for buyers and sellers. More cars than Kijiji means consumers and dealers could feel safe knowing that with, they would be exposed to the most leads. 

b) Communication Strategy

This strategic insight translated creatively into "The Most Cars In One Place" and quickly became the lifeblood of the brand and the driving force behind making the autoTRADER brand compelling and relevant again.

No matter where or how the brand was going to be communicated, it would always be clear, that was the online destination with "The Most Cars In One Place".

To drive interest in the new and contemporize the brand, we launched a break-through communications campaign driven by our core differentiator: "The Most Cars In One Place". The National campaign needed to  break through, attract attention and give consumers a reason to visit the site.

a) Media Used

This campaign was brought to life in a variety of different mediums, including:

  • TV
    • :10, :15 & :30 English and French
    • :30 DRTV English and French
  • Radio
    • :30 English  
    • 4 Executions 
  • Online
    • High Impact & Standard Banner Ads 
    • Homepage Takeovers 
  • Social Media
    • Cultivation & Seeding  
    • Facebook Application  
    • Facebook Ads  
  • Public Relations
    • Media Outreach  
  • Business to Business
    • Dealer Brochures  
    • Dealer Web Landing Page 

b) Creative Discussion


To launch the campaign, two television spots cleverly depict a humorous world where no matter what the reason for selling or buying a vehicle, with "The Most Cars in One Place", is the online destination to get it done. [Crossover Note 25]

“Date” opens on a young couple enjoying dinner. The rendezvous quickly turns serious when the notion of “children” and “future” enters the conversation. Not willing to risk his chance with an attractive woman, the man quickly agrees that children are definitely “part of the future”. Unbeknownst to her, he quickly glances outside, only to see his oversized, unpractical and frankly, obnoxious Hummer. Clearly, this is no vehicle for the “future”. In a seamless transition, the visual of the Hummer turns into an online listing on Pulling back, viewers realize the listing is on the computer screen of a bulky bodybuilder who’s looking for the perfect car. The Hummer may not be perfect for a future family, but it suits the needs of a bodybuilder just fine. Clearly depicting that with the most cars to choose from and no matter what the reason for selling or buying, is THE place for online vehicle shopping.    



“Stoplight” opens on four thugs cruising the streets of downtown listening to gangster rap. As they pull up to a stoplight, a very traditional, suburban family pulls along next to them. Exchanging stares, each party realizes that they are both driving the exact same vehicle. As the family drives away, our four, hardened thugs, are left in bewilderment. Suddenly, they and their cool car, aren’t so cool or tough after all. In a seamless transition, the visual of the car turns into an online listing on Pulling back, viewers realize the listing is on the computer screen of three wannabe “homies”. While the car is no longer cool for the true “thugs”, it’s the perfect match for a few suburban gangster imposters. 




Radio ads were created specifically for the Western regions of Calgary and Edmonton where online adoption of lagged behind the rest of the country. Consumers in this market still preferred autoTRADER’s print publications. The need to create a momentum shift to online in these markets was a key business objective as all of the print publications are to be completely discontinued by the end of 2012. 


This spot opens on a Doctor performing surgery in an operating room. He is clearly distracted by something. The source of his distraction is’s new mobile app. As he cruises through online listings on his phone while performing surgery, this diversion of attention causes his patient to flat line. The spot promotes the message that you can search thousands of cars anytime, anywhere on the new mobile app.


With "The Most Cars in One Place", car listings on are constantly being updated. This is a problem for our announcer as the speed at which listings are updated does not give him enough time to read the full listing. Part way through every listing he is interrupted by a brand new listing to read.


With’s new intuitive vehicle listing process, you don’t have to be a car expert to sell your car on the site. This spot humorously depicts a scenario where a seller clearly doesn’t know much about cars and awkwardly stumbles through his own listing.


To further re-enforce our "Most Cars in One Place" messaging, the challenge was set to attempt to break a record for the most vehicle listings read in one 30-second spot. Our announcer flew through over 2 dozen listings as fast as humanly possible to leave no doubt in listeners’ minds that really does have "The Most Cars in One Place".  




Online display media re-enforced our “Most Cars” messaging as well as tackling Kijiji head-on by focusing on the fact that focuses only on vehicles, while Kijiji visitors are bombarded with everything from couches to cat accessories.





Geo-targeted homepage takeovers on YouTube and allowed users to experience the breadth of vehicle selection on As users rolled over different vehicles in the creative, they were provided with a real-time count of how many of a certain vehicle type were available within a 100km radius of their current location. Clicking through on the count took them to real-time listings on that were also geo-targeted to their location. 





High-impact banners demonstrated the variety of vehicle offerings on and appealed to a variety of consumer life stages in humorous ways. An interactive scroll bar allowed users to move through a number of vehicles that changed depending on someone’s life stage. Click-throughs were directed to the search page on prompting users to find their perfect car from the thousands of available options.





As buying a car is a very social process with buyers eliciting advice from friends and family, we harnessed the power of social media with the creation of’s very first Facebook Application. Dubbed The autoLYZER, the unique app helps Canadians discover three automobiles that are for sale on at that moment in time, best suited to their personality and social life.  The app analyzes real-time data via Facebook, looking at an individual's lifestyle, interests, social activities, and Facebook friends' opinions via existing posts, to help narrow down which cars would be the best fit for their personality. The creative execution of the app re-enforced "The Most Cars in One Place" messaging, highlighted autoTRADER’s move to the digital world and provided greater brand relevance among our target-set.



 A robust public relations campaign has garnered significant media attention throughout the campaign period. It has generated quantitative and qualitative media coverage by identifying strategic story angles regarding’s brand proposition and offering.  



 As the dealer network is a crucial element to’s business success, a number of different elements have been created for their benefit and further promotion of "The Most Cars in One Place" messaging to Dealers.

A landing page off of was developed to introduce Dealers to the new messaging strategy. It included updates on new products and tools under development and informed dealers of the major advertising initiative underway to help convince them that is investing in their current and future business success.



A direct to Dealer brochure counterattacked market claims being made by their key competitor (Kijiji) and focused on the unique benefits Dealers would receive partnering with, benefits that Kijiji could never offer them.


c) Media Discussion

As the first major brand push for in many years, the decision to launch the brand message of "The Most Cars in One Place" to the Canadian market with a big television push made perfect sense. The immediate priority was to ensure Canadians associated the brand as being both online, and having the largest inventory.


Once Television had launched, the Public Relations began, coupled with the B2B initiative for Dealers that introduced the new messaging, the brand and how it would add value to their business.

Online quickly followed the launch with standard banners, high-impact and page takeovers. The executions helped to both dramatically increase traffic, as well as further the messaging of "The Most Cars in One Place" in the online space.

As the :30 Television media buy ended, secondary and tertiary TV flights that included :10, :15 and DRTV spots aired that not only solidified The Most Cars in One Place messaging, but also highlighted as a free listing site for consumers.

A large social push was triggered with the launch of The autoLYZER Facebook App. Social seeding and cultivation pushed the App and brand message to the online masses, while Facebook ads drove participation within specific target groups.

Radio launched in early July, with :10 Television, Public Relations and The autoLYZER all pushing the brand message online and offline throughout the typically soft vehicle purchasing Summer months. 

a) Sales/Share Results

We had an ambitious objective of bringing an additional 500,000 visitors to the site on a monthly basis and we are delighted that we not only met our objectives, but also exceeded them. Since launch, traffic to the site is up +18% with 3,622,000 incremental visits to the site over the campaign period (February 1 to July 31) on a year-on-year basis. With +27% growth in monthly unique visitors since campaign launch (6,300,000 UMVs in July 2012 alone), the results are continuously climbing. Not only are more consumers visiting the site, but the results prove they are interested in what we have to offer with page views up +76% year-on-year (a significant statistic for our private sellers and dealers). Unaided awareness of the brand has also increased by 4% points and awareness that it is free to post on increased by 8% points amongst Canadians surveyed post-campaign.

The launch of the autoLYZER App and Public Relations program has created a groundswell of interest in the brand, resulting in over 273,000,000 impressions. Facebook fandom of the Canada page has exploded by +126% following its launch (as of July 2012). Additionally, positive sentiment towards the brand, as measured through NetPromoterScore (NPS) surveys, has increased an incredible 22 percentage points since launch, to a NPS of 31%. Not to mention, the conversation surrounding the brand on Twitter alone increased by 47% with no negative coverage on the autoLYZER reported.

Attracting more dealer and private listings to the site has always been a key business objective with a goal of increasing each by +10% and +25%, respectively. Dealer listings to the site are up +18% and private listings are up a staggering +169% since launch (June 2012 vs. Jan 2012) and +113% on a YOY basis.

To round out the campaign of “The Most Cars in One Place,” we specifically targeted areas with low brand awareness and low site traffic compared to the rest of Canada with regional radio. The traffic immediately spiked in these targeted regions following the radio launch with site traffic growth of 12.7% and 15% in Edmonton and Calgary, respectively. As we continue to see strong site traffic results while in market, it is clear that the radio spots have broken through the clutter and we have successfully surpassed the performance targets originally set.   

The evolution of has just begun and the new campaign is part of a long-term commitment to keep the brand relevant and useful to consumers, while increasing traffic and the number of leads delivered to dealers.

b) Consumption/ Usage Results

c) Other Pertinent Results

d) Return on Investment

a) General Discussion

This was the first major national campaign for autoTRADER promoting its exclusively online offering in Canada. Therefore, without any previous communications promoting, the campaign advertising has an undeniable relationship and direct linkage to all web performance results.

While in market with the :30 TV, there was a YOY increase in traffic of 10.96% following the launch. Site traffic immediately spiked downward when the Television was off-air, for a YOY decline of -1.87%. After a short hiatus, with the Television back on-air, site traffic once again immediately climbed to reach a growth of 13.3% YOY. Therefore, we can directly correlate site traffic performance to in-market media. 

The radio targeted consumers in Edmonton and Calgary, where consumer site traffic had become stagnant. The results were immediate with an average site traffic growth of 13.85% in the Western regions the week following the launch. The cause-and-effect relationship of the radio and traffic is clear, as traffic numbers return to pre campaign numbers during the timeframe that radio is out of market.

b) Excluding Other Factors
Spending Levels:

The total spending level of $3.2M, which included ALL production work, is a very conservative spend level for a National campaign hoping to attract the attention of Canada. 


The total spending level of $3.2M, which included ALL production work, is a very conservative spend level for a National campaign hoping to attract the attention of Canada. During this campaign period, Kijiji Autos (the #1 competitor to autoTRADER) was engaged in a multimedia campaign including National Television and Online. With autoTRADER’s key competitor in market with a National campaign promoting it’s offering meant there was a big battle for eyeballs in the category during the campaign period.  

Distribution Changes:

There were no major distribution changes.

Unusual Promotional Activity:

No major unusual promotional activity.

Other Potential Causes:

There are no other potential sources of business change.