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eBay Business

Agency: Slack Barshinger, Chicago

People running a small business need to make a dime work like a dollar: People like Randy Will, owner of Nevole's Pizzeria in Sandy, Utah.

"I've purchased $30,000 worth of equipment-a freezer, ice machine, tables, seating and even my sign-for less than $3,000. Without eBay, I'd still be dreaming about this place instead of running it," states Will in a burst of testimonial copy in an ad for eBay Business. Will beams at the camera against a row of stainless steel equipment in his restaurant's kitchen. The crisply photographed image is engaging and honest. He's the real deal.

It's eBay users like Will who commanded center stage in a series of testimonial ads for eBay Business. "In our research, it was discovered that business owners are incredibly enthusiastic users of eBay," said Jay Fiore, eBay's senior manager of business marketing.

Business owners in several vertical categories, such as restaurants, construction and agriculture, appeared in the ads. "They communicated the tremendous savings they were enjoying from using eBay," Fiore said. "The campaign builds credibility for eBay as a resource for business equipment. It raises the visibility of trading on the site."

The ad featuring Will appeared in such publications as Restaurants and Institutions, Chef and Restaurant Hospitality. The overall campaign is evolving from a strictly vertical orientation to one that's more horizontal, with testimonial-style ads appearing in such publications as Inc., Fortune Small Business and The Wall Street Journal.

The campaign created by Chicago-based Slack Barshinger has helped boost gross merchandise volume quite rapidly in the verticals targeted in the campaign, Fiore said. "We saw 30% growth in awareness in the categories we were targeting."

Gary Slack, the agency's CEO, said that in the course of research done for eBay Business, it was found that users were passionate about the online marketplace. The business owners' enthusiasm for eBay was adroitly captured in the testimonials that were drawn from a series of journalistic-style interviews with them.

"They're testimonials on steroids," said Slack with a laugh. "It was the campaign's peer-to-peer strategy. Business owners put a lot of stock into what other business owners have to say."

Adding to the sense of realism were the colorful photos that dominated the ads. "We used real people and surrounded them with the products they bought," said Don Barshinger, the agency's president.

"The testimonial approach has been very effective for us," Fiore said. "It got the attention of business owners and let them know that there were all kinds of business products they could buy on eBay." M

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