A new advertising campaign for Ford Motor Co.'s certified used-vehicle program warns would-be buyers about owners who sell their cars and trucks privately.
The ads assert that private sellers cannot offer buyers the peace of mind that comes from buying a certified used Ford, Lincoln or Mercury vehicle.
Certified vehicles have factory warranties, and automakers say they often are of higher quality than other used cars and trucks.
The Ford campaign includes advertising on the Internet and local radio stations and in national consumer magazines such as Time, Rolling Stone, Seventeen and Spin.
David Prystash, executive director of pre-owned and remarketing strategy at Ford, says the campaign is aimed at consumers ages 18 to 49. It places special emphasis on young, first-time car buyers.
"We're finding that young buyers buy a used car 75 percent of the time," Prystash says.
One print ad features a shady-looking character with outstretched hands.
The caption reads: "Don't worry. If anything goes wrong, I'll have my cousin Rudy look at it. He's a mechanic, you know."
The advertisement describes how certified used Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles undergo rigorous inspection and reconditioning. It mentions that the cars and trucks come with a vehicle history report, roadside assistance, fresh oil and a full tank of gasoline. It notes that buyers can get special financing.
The ad concludes: "And it's all backed by Ford Motor Co. Think you'll get all that from a private owner? We don't think so."
Prystash says the ads and the certified program seek to sell "trust."
"When the customer leaves the dealership, they know that the vehicle has been inspected and reconditioned to some pretty tough specifications," Prystash says.
For the Internet part of the ad campaign, Ford is partnering with America Online to sponsor an online sweepstakes with a motorcycle-racing theme.
The grand prize is a Harley Davidson edition of a 2003 certified Ford F150 Super-Crew truck valued at $24,500. First prize is a Harley-Davidson Fat Boy motorcycle.
Winners will be determined Nov. 17 by a random drawing among registrants at the Web site.
The automaker also has reached an agreement with Google.com. The Internet search engine will direct some used-vehicle inquiries to the Web site for the Ford certified program.