Carvana’s New York market launch holds true to its unconventional car buying methods

By Kyle O'Brien | Creative Works Editor

September 20, 2018 | 7 min read

Residents in New York City can order just about anything online and get it delivered to their front door, and now that includes a car, thanks to Carvana. The ecommerce platform for buying, financing and selling used cars has now launched as-soon-as-next-day vehicle delivery in the Big Apple.

To celebrate entering its largest market to date, Carvana is maximizing its marketing presence in Manhattan with a one-day integrated campaign today (September 20) to tell New Yorkers about the company’s way of buying a car. Carvana will actually parade its services through New York with a caravan of five signature Carvana car haulers carrying vehicles. Partnering with a production artist, Carvana designed three car-sized takeout bags for NYC-style delivery, emphasizing that you can now order a car online and have it delivered to your doorstep. The parade will cross the Manhattan Bridge from Brooklyn and tour through the city, passing signature areas like SoHo, Columbus Circle, Midtown and Washington Square Park.

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Carvana delivery

Carvana delivers cars to New York City

Throughout the day, more than 250 digital on-street LinkNYC units will display Carvana advertising along the parade route, as well as a live social feed of those using the campaign hashtag #TheNYCWayToBuyACar. Those who spot the parade are encouraged to snap a photo and post to their social handles using the hashtags #TheNYCWayToBuyACar and #sweepstakes for a chance to win a year of free Postmates (up to $5,000).

“New York City is the largest market we’ve launched to date, so it’s fitting we give it our largest celebration” said Ernie Garcia, founder and chief executive of Carvana. “New Yorkers are known for being mobile-first, so we’re proud to be the first to give them a fully start-to-finish mobile car buying experience; a service they’ve become accustomed to for much of their purchasing decisions.”

Carvana now offers as-soon-as-next-day vehicle delivery in nearly 80 markets across the US. Carvana customers shop for and purchase their next vehicle entirely online, saving a trip to the dealer along with time and money. Along with high-definition, 360-degree photos, every Carvana vehicle comes with a seven-day return policy so the customer has time to ensure the vehicle fits their life.

Customers can shop more than 10,000 vehicles on, finance, purchase, and even sell their current vehicle to Carvana, then schedule as-soon-as-next-day delivery to their home or office in as little as 10 minutes.

Building campaigns from the inside

Carvana was founded in the digital age, in 2012 in Phoenix, with a mission to change the way people buy cars. They also changed the way auto sales marketing is done, pulling their creative teams in house to make for a vertically integrated experience, from campaign ideation to the final sale.

Paul Keister, Carvana’s chief creative officer, was a former agency creative, and executive director at his agency, Goodness Mfg, when he started working with the upstart Carvana. After working on his first project with the company and Carvana’s co-founder and chief brand officer, Ryan Keeton, they knew it was a good fit and Keister came over to run the in-house team.

“We’re vertically integrated, and we’ve made a decision to build versus buy to be able to control that whole chain,” said Keeton. “We outsource a small amount of things here or there – PR, and media planning and buying, we work with Horizon Media. Everything else, from social, creative to design to digital marketing, to quantitative analytics… people with PhDs in astrophysics building out models for our marketing – that’s all in house. We made that choice because we believe you’re able to focus really deeply. We needed to build the capability ourselves.”

The in-house agency covers roughly 30 people in Phoenix and in Venice, California. Being internal means that the creatives can spend their time focusing on brand solutions and producing new creative, rather than pitching new business.

“We take the best of what makes an agency tick and focus there,” said Keister, adding that they make identify the business priority, then write a brief. After that, they find the “ideas we like, flesh them out, build them, make sure they’re hitting the key objectives, and produce them. It’s much more streamlined (than agencies). We still provide hearty discussions and checks and balances with each other.”

Not Carvana’s first stunt

The campaigns at Carvana started with one that still has legs, one that started when Keister was at Goodness, called the Wavy Guy.

“It’s the story of the lovable Wavy character at the dealership that has been silent witness to all the things that have happened over time. He gets fed up when he punches the clock and goes home (to his Wavy family) and decides to use Carvana. That helped get traction. Wavy Guy was effective to our growth. That single campaign has had a long shelf live,” said Keeton.

He added that television has been an effective advertising medium for the company, due to its national reach. Other campaigns have included ‘Don’t Play the Game’ where people had to play ridiculous dealer games only to lose money, and a New Way to Buy a Car Smell, which spoofed cologne commercials by adding silly ingredients, including a “single tear of a car salesman.”

Social media has helped grow the company as well, and one of the main catalysts for that is the life-sized Carvana car vending machine.

“If you look at the key performance indicators, the ultimate one is someone buying a car. We’ve had customers directly reference that vending machine experience as their first point of contact with Carvana. That shows it was provocative enough for them to learn more about us,” said Keister.

Carvana vending machine

Added Keeton: “That’s an asset that we developed to use in markets to build awareness. We’ve taken it on tours. Not only is it a physical element, it’s got an interactivity to it. People love taking a picture using it,” he said, adding that those pics are often shared on social media.

The two added that the car business is a noisy one, and they use their marketing tactics to show people that Carvana is a very different way to buy.

“We’re not a marketplace. With us you don’t have to deal with the hassle of dealers, of a salesperson. We don’t have overhead. Once folks start to understand and dig in… doing it all from home makes a big difference,” said Keeton.

Carvana Car Delivery

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