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work we love

We think the We Buy Any Car campaign is brilliant.

By Greg Newman, Strategist at Craft Media London

If you spoke to real people rather than industry nerds like us, we reckon it’s the only advert most of them would be able to remember from this year so far.

And why wouldn’t they? It’s great. Joyful, fun, couched in understanding of a cultural trend, distinctive, planned in order to be noticed, consistently live through the year so far, and catchy as anything. We can’t be the only people who’ve caught ourselves singing it in the kitchen.

While the formula for great work like this isn’t complicated, getting it made is far from easy. Particularly in this instance, we think all of the teams involved - at Brothers and Sisters, MediaCom Manchester and especially at We Buy Any Car - deserve serious praise.

Let’s think about the context this work was made in:

  • The car sales market is in a generational slump. Delays in new car production mean fewer people are trading in older models, shortages on the used market have massively inflated prices, and sales volumes are at a multi-year low. We Buy Any Car are buying a lot fewer cars than they would have expected.

  • At the same time competition in the market has exploded, Motorway, Carwow, Cazoo and AutoTrader have all launched copycat business models, some of which offer a superior service which collects cars from your home rather than at a car park up the road. Suddenly, We Buy Any Car is undifferentiated in a low-interest category, a recipe for thinner margins and cost-cutting.

  • Economic headwinds mean the funding for online D2C brands that was so easy to find 18 months ago has almost entirely dried up. We Buy Any Car’s major competitor Cazoo shuttered its European operations last Autumn in an attempt to reach profitability more quickly. (WBAC’s holding company - British Car Auctions - also owns Cinch). Pressure is on to deliver short-term return on marketing investment.

  • Finally, We Buy Any Car’s comms were already reasonably distinctive and effective. The old sonic branding was easy to recall, their ads featuring Phillip Schofield were fairly memorable. There was no burning platform requiring wholesale change.

All of this is a recipe for conservative campaign planning. The safe option here was to continue with ads in a similar vein, run maintenance weights of short-form ads on TV and concentrate on reaching in-market customers to defend share in a retrenching market.

That they didn’t follow this route should be massively commended. Instead they realised that brilliant, distinctive creative work can help a business defy market conditions and deliver significant overperformance relative to its competitors.

Clearly the commercial impact of this work is far from over, but the uplift in search share is enormous in the time since the campaign has gone live. Assuming this matures into share of market the work is likely to have had an enormous positive impact on the bottom line.

This is really brilliant work of the kind we should all be trying to make more of. Well done to all involved.

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