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Case Studies ‘Car Buyers Survival School’ ‘Car Buyers Survival School’

Best practice from acceleris marketing communications.
Background: is a major new consumer focused website positioned as a force for good in motor retailing that aims to place the power in the hands of the buyer by providing the guidance needed to help them make an informed choice on their next car. has over 200,000 used cars listed on its site from both leading UK car retailers as well as private sellers.

- To promote to the consumer market as a trustworthy way of sourcing their new car
- To raise the profile of within the motor trade as a the best commercial option for marketing used cars to a strong consumer audience.
- To underpin and promote the philosophy of empowering the car buyer and supporting the brand strap line of ‘You Take the Wheel’
- To drive visitors to the site
- To differentiate from its main competitor Autotrader and support the website’s ultimate goal of being the UK’s 2nd biggest Motor Retail website
The primary brief to Acceleris was a consumer campaign to raise the profile of to UK carbuyers of all demographics, however it was important not to ignore the needs of the company’s ultimate commercial targets – UK car retailers – in the programme it delivered. Acceleris needed to ensure that whilst enlightening the consumer it did not alienate the dealer.

To better understand the challenges faced by UK car buyers Acceleris questioned 1,223 motorists on their car buying habits. The findings highlighted a basic lack of knowledge on the critical things to look for in the car buying process that had real cost implications.
In response to this Acceleris devised the concept of the ‘Car Buyer’s Survival School’ – a programme of master classes that would educate car buyers on everything they need to know about the buying process from getting a good price on a part-exchange to choosing the right model and managing deal negotiation.
Content for the course was compiled via two main sources. Firstly, Acceleris recruited the support of Quentin Willson, one of the country’s leading consumer motoring authorities and Vicki Butler-Henderson, presenter of Five’s Fifth Gear programme to provide valuable advice for the guide and present the survival school events.

Secondly, to ensure motor retailers were embraced rather than alienated, UK dealers were interviewed for their top buying tips and techniques for inclusion in the course.
Locations for four Survival Schools were agreed by marrying dealer targeting with those cities offering strong media outlets and audiences – namely London, Birmingham, Leeds and Bristol.

A series of competitions were then run across national and regional titles to win places on the events with a heavy bias to online media to encourage click-through.

These included New Woman online, FHM online,, Birmingham 101, The Big Issue, The Leeds Guide and View London. In a major coup, all 28 regional ‘Thisis..’ sites ran the competition on their motoring pages.
Acceleris teamed up with motor retailers in each area to host the event, reducing venue costs for the client and offering local dealers partnership publicity.
The Survival School events ran from May 10 – June 8. The day was structured with a master class in the morning presented by Quentin and Vicky followed by a ‘Price is Right Challenge’ where attendees put their skills to the test for the chance to win a Ferrari driving day.
A four-stage drip feed of media relations activity was implemented to gain maximum exposure and OTS. In addition to national and regional competitions, media invitations were issued for each event with interviews undertaken on the day.

Post event press releases were regionalised for each competition winner and issued with photography (total -  26).

Finally, separate activity was undertaken around the online launch of the free ‘Car Buyers Survival School’ Guide on All event planning, management, organisation and media relations were undertaken by the Acceleris team. 

The Acceleris team was responsible for devising an initiative that brought the consumer and motor retailer together in the UK’s first Car Buyers Survival School.

A bespoke brand for the school was created and the guide itself has provided an important new offering from the website, underpinning its philosophy of empowering the car buyer.

Media relations surrounding the campaign used a wide array of channels to maximise exposure including print, broadcast and online. Combining the classroom scenario with a fun, ‘Price Is Right’ challenge also created an informative event with a real talkability factor.

The campaign secured 126 pieces of coverage spanning news, consumer and trade titles, creating 27.2 million OTS. The total equivalent advertising value of the campaign was  £50,259.35, delivering a PR value of £160,829.92. This included 260 mentions of and 186 mentions of the Survival School.
National coverage was generated in The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Mirror and on the Channel 4 and AOL news websites. Media activity on the day of the first event in London started with two studio interviews with Quentin Willson on BBC TV breakfast (reaching an audience of 2 million) and finished with London Tonight on ITV.
On the day of the launch event saw an increase of 4 thousand unique visitors to its website from 17,000 to 21,000 – the site’s best ever day for traffic. Over 5,000 people applied for places on the Survival School events.
After the event, Quentin Willson, said, "The Car Buyers Survival School was one of the smartest, sassiest and most effective pieces of consumer marketing and PR that I've ever been involved in. In a sea of PR dross this one really shone out.

"The competition winners really learned something, Vicki and I had a hoot, I was on the BBC Breakfast sofa that morning and here's a template for something that could run and run. I sigh with admiration.' 

Budget: £10 – £50K

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