October 9, 2007, 12:00 AM

Cars.com to rev up marketing with Super Bowl advertising

Most web companies have bypassed Super Bowl ads in recent years, but Cars.com will kick off a national campaign in 2008 with a Fox spot during Super Bowl XLII.

Don Davis

Editor in Chief

After plunking down millions several years ago for Super Bowl television spots that didn’t produce traffic commensurate with the spend, most e-commerce companies have taken a pass on the pricey advertising in recent years. But Cars.com plans to use TV advertising during Super Bowl XLII on the Fox Network to launch its 2008 marketing campaign, the company announced.

“We are making a significant investment to move the Cars.com brand forward and draw even more new and used car shoppers to the site in 2008,” says Mitch Golub, the company’s president. “Advertising on the Super Bowl gives Cars.com a way to kick off that campaign in a big way, reaching an expected 90 million viewers who will tune in live.”

Cars.com didn’t disclose what it’s spending to advertise on the Super Bowl. However, the company has said it plans to increase its advertising spending overall by more than 50% in 2008, with an integrated media campaign that will run nationally through the year. Supporting the national campaign will be the Cars.com network, in which local newspapers, TV stations and their web sites both contribute listings to Cars.com and also promote Cars.com in their respective outlets.

Cars.com also will be boosting its online advertising next year and recently announced an exclusive multi-year agreement with Yahoo Autos in which more than 2 million used and new car listings from Cars.com will appear on Yahoo Autos. Cars.com, which launched in 1998, lists vehicles from 14,000 dealer customers, classified advertisers and private individuals.

With a few exceptions such as the ad featuring a sock puppet touting the now-defunct Pets.com, the ads for e-commerce sites that ran on the decade’s earlier Super Bowl broadcasts were panned by analysts as not measuring up to the creative offered up by more experienced Super Bowl advertisers. One analyst of the day said the TV spots of the Internet company advertisers “looked like public service announcements” by contrast.

A spokeswoman for Cars.com says the ad will be produced by its long-term agency, DDB Chicago, and handled by a creative team that has produced Super Bowl advertising for clients such as brewer Anheuser-Busch.

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