Marketing clutter? There's plenty of it in the huge Chicago metropolitan area, and even in Aurora and Naperville, two rapidly expanding cities west of the Windy City.
The clutter is the result of advertising in general, national ads from automotive brands and local dealers' ads.
But about 1½ years ago, Aurora dealer Roland Gartner and his team at Gartner Buick-Hyundai-Saab found an effective path through the marketing traffic jam.
With its new Chicago-based ad agency, Ekman Stimson, the Gartner operation launched a playful campaign that included the voice and visage of Gartner, and the repeated message that the customer is treated like the boss at this dealership that ranks among the top 20 in sales in the state.
"I'm Roland Gartner, and you're not," says the message, quickly inviting the consumer to "Come on in to Gartner. W'll treat you like the boss ... feel like number one."
Results have been impressive, with monthly new-vehicle sales up some 30 percent since the campaign began, and in August, the dealership set a record by topping 400 sales, he says.
"Ekman Stimson came up with the idea," says Gartner, 60. "We started with the slogan around the summer of 2001 and augmented it with the (musical) jingle by the end of the year."
Radio and newspapers have been the media of choice. Gartner's Web site, www.gartnercars.com, includes the jingle.
"I had done some radio ads myself in the past," says Gartner. "I guess I have an unusual voice, which people have begun to recognize. We want to build on that recognition equity."
Gartner says it was a leap of faith to begin a new ad campaign and support it with some serious dollars.
Having a catchy slogan, plus a jingle and positive word of mouth adds up to new and repeat business.
But reputation alone isn't enough. If someone unfamiliar with the dealership hears the radio jingle or sees the newspaper ad, additional word from a neighbor or friend who had bought at the dealership substantiates that advertising, Gartner says.
"I'm Roland Gartner, and you're not" started with radio and print ads in the second half of 2001.
When Ekman Stimson suggested adding a musical jingle and turning the words into lyrics, Gartner suggested using his niece, Kristin Garner, a professional recording artist, to do the singing.
It was recorded in Nashville and began to air at the end of that year.
Early in 2002 the music bowed on Gartner's Web site.
Gartner says a golf game involving his general sales manager and a principal at Ekman Stimson resulted in a meeting that eventually produced a contract relationship.
He says the dealership meets monthly with the agency and regularly spends four to five hours examining results and planning for the future.
The agency, which has provided valuable advice throughout the campaign, has suggested the dealer run it forever.
Gartner agrees to the extent that, even while some may come to disregard it after a while, it likely will continue to reach new audiences or readers for a long time.
Says Gartner: "It will be a number of years before we feel we've played it to death."