Edmunds to Media Owners: Use Ad Space to Encourage Car Buying

Devotes $10 Million in Real Estate to 'Public-Service' Effort, Implores Others to Follow

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Attention, media companies that have thrived on automakers' advertising: It's time to give back.

The 'Drive America forward' effort is a blanket push for all vehicle brands sold in the U.S.
The 'Drive America forward' effort is a blanket push for all vehicle brands sold in the U.S.
That's the message from Jeremy Anwyl, CEO of auto website Edmunds.com, which is giving up $10 million of its space to ads entreating Americans to buy a new car or truck. The effort, which Edmunds calls "Drive America forward," isn't restricted to promoting Detroit's carmakers but is a blanket push for all vehicle brands sold in the U.S.

The ad, created in-house, lives on Edmunds' home page as well as "scattered all over" the site's hundreds of thousands of content pages, Mr. Anwyl said. The main message of what he considers a public-service announcement is "It's a great time to buy," since there are such great deals available. He said he figures the ad for will run for about 90 days.

AutoTrader follows suit
Edmunds is challenging other media to follow suit, even offering free use of its creative. So far, competitor AutoTrader has accepted.

A spokesman for AutoTrader said Edmunds contacted the car-buying site Jan. 12 about the proposition. AutoTrader will create its own, similar ad in-house, though the spokesman said he wasn't sure when the ad would go live. "We're very supportive of the message and the idea," he said.

Visitors to Edmunds.com are closer to market than the average American, so the program would have more impact on a mass media outlet such as TV, Mr. Anwyl said.

Plenty of Americans can still afford a new vehicle, even if they feel poorer due to stock-market losses or home-equity drops, Mr. Anwyl said, adding that he's not suggesting that someone who just lost a job run out and buy a $30,000 car.

Had to do something
He said he's not sure the push will work, but he had to do something to try to jump-start auto sales. "We've got to shock people into the market."

Automakers sold 13.2 million new cars and trucks in the U.S. last year, 18% fewer than in 2007 and the industry's worst tally since 1992. Carmakers and industry experts have predicted that the industry could sell even fewer new vehicles in 2009.

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