AutoNation's Drive Pink cam-paign sprung from CEO Mike Jackson's daily meetings with his chief marketing officer.
Jackson and CMO Marc Cannon were brainstorming ideas to promote the retailer's involvement in the Dec. 19 AutoNation Cure Bowl supporting breast cancer research. Cannon remarked that he always notices unusual license plates.
"And Mike says, 'Why don't we do pink plates?'" Cannon recalled.
Within a few minutes, the two had ironed out the basic foundation of AutoNation's $16 million fall advertising campaign. Cannon mentioned that his children made a game out of spotting green cars when they were younger. They settled on a commercial showing children looking for pink plate frames on vehicles.
AutoNation executives expect to distribute tens of thousands of those plate frames beginning this month as the company launches its Drive Pink campaign. The nation's largest new-car retailer will place a pink license plate frame on the back of every vehicle sold or serviced at its dealerships and will ask customers whether they want to donate to breast cancer research.
"You can show your support, and it's something that can go on the car and everybody can see it," Cannon said.
Commercials will air nationally on CNBC and college football programming. AutoNation will match customer donations -- up to $10 per service customer and up to $100 per sales customer. The company pledges to donate at least $1 million to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation through the campaign.
In November, commercials will have a football theme to promote the bowl game. The campaign, developed by Zimmerman & Partners, also includes digital, print, social media and direct-mail pieces.
Cancer fundraising has been a major commitment for AutoNation for the last two years. And it is meaningful for customers, too.
"Whatever we do," he said, "we want to make sure it's tied in with things that matter to people."