Automotive News 40 Under 40

Bob Peterson

AGE: 26

POSITION: Digital media director, Rosenthal Automotive, Reston, Va.

Bob Peterson

It isn't Hollywood. But Bob Peterson for now is happy drumming up business for Rosenthal Automotive with professional-quality videos.

Peterson studied film production and business administration at Southern Methodist University. And while in high school, he spent two weeks in Brazil shooting a Discovery Channel-style documentary on gemstone mining.

Peterson has made more than 100 videos and commercials since joining his maternal grandfather's 13-store dealership group in 2010. But these aren't the garden-variety, amateur walk-arounds of used vehicles.

Each video takes a month to shoot, edit and produce, Peterson said. He puts them up on the store's YouTube channel, where they often go viral.

For example, a test drive and review that Peterson made three years ago of the then-new BMW 5 series has garnered 983,676 views. One made seven months ago on the Audi RS5 has already logged 551,727 views.

All told, Peterson's videos have generated 10 million views on YouTube, helping to bring buyers to the showroom and boosting the group's position on Google, the influential search engine that owns YouTube. One commentator in the Midwest said he'd be "a customer for life if I didn't live so far away."

Peterson said he has learned how far he can push the creative envelope. He once had to take down a popular review of the 2011 Porsche Cayenne because the factory was offended by the host of the spot -- a dealership employee dressed like a godfather figure in red robe with cigar.

Peterson said that one day he'd like to try his hand in Hollywood. 

-- David Barkholz