AutoNation ads will tout recall policy

AutoNation Inc. will launch a $10 million ad campaign Wednesday, March 2, that for the first time touts the dealership group's policy of selling recall-free vehicles.

"Drive Pink, Drive Safe, Drive Now" is the campaign tag line. The $10 million primarily funds TV advertising, but the campaign also includes online advertising and some radio.

AutoNation’s ads will talk about its recall and breast cancer initiatives.

In September, AutoNation, the country's largest new-car retailer, said it would no longer sell any vehicle with an open recall. In January, AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson said he had hoped other auto retailers would follow his group's lead. But they did not, and, he later said, AutoNation would make its recall policy a distinguishing brand attribute in 2016. "We feel in the long term it will be a tremendous advantage to us," Jackson said.

The campaign also will continue AutoNation's Drive Pink initiative, which has been both a marketing effort and a fundraiser for breast cancer research.

In addition to Drive Pink and Drive Safe ads that aim to differentiate the AutoNation brand, the campaign will include 15-second spots focused on available vehicle promotions, Chief Marketing Officer Marc Cannon said. The Road Runner character, which first appeared in AutoNation's marketing last year, is featured in those 15-second spots.

The commercials will appear on both network and spot TV on a combination of prime time, sports programming and morning news, Cannon said. The campaign will run for the rest of 2016.

Jackson said earlier this year that AutoNation would trim marketing expenses in light of lower vehicle profits in the fourth quarter. The cutbacks are in the area of direct mail, radio, newspaper and directories such as the Yellow Pages, Cannon said. AutoNation has cut almost $2 million of spending on Yellow Pages and other directory publications, bringing it down to nearly zero, he added.

Cannon said the cost cuts will not affect the new campaign.

You can reach Amy Wilson at