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Heycar’s swaggering ad helped it compete against brands with triple its budget

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By Jennifer Faull | Deputy Editor

June 21, 2023 | 6 min read

The campaign won in the Automotive category at The Drum Awards for Marketing EMEA.

heycar

Heycar wins at The Drum Awards for Marketing

Heycar is an online marketplace for new and used cars that parked up in the UK in 2019. But the sector is fiercely competitive, with rivals such as Cazoo and Cinch also racing for a piece of the action. These two businesses have much deeper marketing pockets, although as Cazoo recently found this does not guarantee success. Atomic was put in the driving seat in 2020 following Heycar’s launch campaign.

The Idea

The comms task was to create highly memorable communications and execute them with consistency across channels. It needed to make Heycar famous and be the first brand that sprang to mind when a potential customer began searching for a car – all on a tight budget. Cazoo and Cinch spend three-times the media budget allocated to Heycar UK (£30m apiece on media in 2021 according to Ad Intel) and have big-budget sponsor relationships with well-known sports events and high-profile teams. But if you can’t compete on media budget then you must outsmart the rivals with a great creative idea that can thread through all the potential touchpoints on the customer journey, from TV to TikTok and beyond, and which makes a huge cultural impact.

It also wanted to expand the audience beyond the second-hand core target market of ABC1 Males. While this segment has been the target historically for automotive, it sought out an engaging creative idea that could spread across the masses, specifically among women and younger e-commerce audiences.

Preliminary research found that the car-buying category and the purchase process weren’t perceived as fun, but as real chores. Studies on the emotional journey of car buying showed the pre-purchase moment was littered with overwhelmingly negative emotions like dread and discomfort. Talking to customers, Atomic knew that there is a universal moment of pure joy when you have the keys in your hands and your new wheels await. And that is the feelgood confidence you can experience at every stage of the car buying journey when you buy with Heycar.

The Strategy

The concept had to bring swagger to the brand and give potential customers a feel-good fuel injection whenever and wherever they encountered it. Articulated in the positioning ‘Hey, buying a car never felt so good’, the agency developed a bedrock creative platform that encapsulated quality car buying with confidence and generated the optimism and excitement of a new car that the category was so desperately lacking.

The competitors had invested heavily in sporting connections, but what speaks more of the in-car experience, the open road and the breeze in your hair (that’s the dream anyway) than music? So, Atomic made sure music’s cultural connection to the car was embedded in the campaigns. The ‘Feel Good Your Way’ campaign ad kicked off with a rapper emerging in a cloud of smoke from a delivery truck in front of an astonished customer, then both are transported to a dealership showroom where salespeople break into a choreographed dance routine. Finally, the colorful crew is seen in a car cruising, bringing their feel-good energy to the streets.

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The Result

This disruptive campaign was well-received by audiences, but it also energized dealerships. That swagger came across and helped build interest and confidence in the brand among its dealerships – Heycar even saw a marked increase in dealership renewals despite a rise in fees.

This campaign won at The Drum Awards for Marketing EMEA 2023. Find out more about The Drum’s Global Awards program or head to our case studies hub to read more award-winning stories.

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