Carfax Campaign Seeks to Make Used Car Buyers Aware

Article excerpt

Carfax Inc. wants used car buyers to get the facts straight.

The Fairfax company, which developed a way for shoppers to get background checks on used cars before they buy, has kicked off its first national advertising campaign.

Carfax is spending $20 million on cable and radio spots that show a used car may not be in the mint condition that a buyer thinks it is.

The ad campaign, created by the Martin Agency in Richmond, shows car owners doing outlandish things to their vehicles, portraying that used car shoppers should beware and use Carfax.com when before they buy.

"The purpose of the campaign is to let consumers know they don't have to be duped anymore," said Larry Gamache, public relations manager at Carfax.

Carfax, which has records on 1.2 billion cars and trucks, provides a historical report on a vehicle by using the 17-character vehicle identification number found on the dashboard. The report lists any problems the car or truck has had including its salvage and accident history, flood damage and odometer fraud. Nearly one in every 10 cars has hidden problems, according to Carfax.

Consumers can purchase a two-month ultimate report plan for $19.95 that allows them to check the history of as many vehicles as they want within 60 days or a single report for $14.95.

Carfax gets about 25,000 requests a day or about 10 million a year. Mr. Gamache expects the volume to double because of the ad campaign, which broke April 3. By April 5 the number of visitors to the Carfax site was up 62 percent, he said. The company is expecting to add more employees to its 144-person staff because of the additional business.

The ads, which are appearing on cable stations like CNN, ESPN, TNT and Discovery, are slated to run through January.

FLYING HIGH

The National Restaurant Association, which announced plans for an aggressive public relations effort called the "Cornerstone Initiative" in February, has been looking for ways to promote the restaurant industry.

Ruth's Chris Steak House was chosen as one of the featured businesses on a video news release to be aired on United Airline flights.

The video profiles Ruth's Chris Steak House founder Ruth Fertel and the success of the New Orleans-based restaurant chain that has more than 71 locations.

The restaurant association felt the video played well in the Cornerstone Initiative showing how successful people in the restaurant business can be. …