NEW YORK -- CarMax Inc., the nation's largest used-car retailer, will make its first national splash in the Super Bowl next month with two 30-second spots -- one in the second quarter and one in the third.
In the past, CarMax's regional ads for the game have starred animals such as monkeys and prairie dogs. Laura Donahue, vice president in charge of creative marketing and advertising, was coy about what the spots that will showcase on Feb. 6.
But she did say furry creatures won't have quite the starring role they had in the past. And she did guarantee the work would be funny, but in a "sophisticated" way.
The creative work is being handled by CarMax's new agency, Amalgamated, of New York. The force behind the ads is Eric Silver, who became chief creative officer and majority owner of Amalgamated in September.
Donahue on Thursday took a few moments from the set to chat about the ads with Advertising Age, a sister publication to Automotive News. She explained how CarMax was lucky to nab some of the last Super Bowl inventory the Fox network had available and why the company's confident that the media buy -- while expensive -- will benefit the brand.
Why is this investment worth it for CarMax, and what's the overall business goal you're hoping to achieve via the Super Bowl?
The Super Bowl is obviously a great platform for showcasing a brand. We're interested in providing a broader reach for us to be able to explain our customer-service story, and as we continue to grow into more markets and grow our online presence to make it easier and easier for people to access our products. It's primarily a brand-building effort.
It definitely didn't come without good thought about the creative that Amalgamated presented, but once we saw that, we knew the work was worthy of the platform. So it was a combination, a marriage of the creative and the opportunity. The main thing we're hoping to convey via these two spots is that we're a great company, we have a consumer offer, and it's a differentiated offer.
What makes it really timely right now is that it's a really different story about customer service than what's playing out today in all industries -- whether it's airlines, banks, you name it. Customer service has been suffering as companies have tried in the recession to try and get a foothold on profitability and, unfortunately, that has included charging for services that used to be free.