#DoOver for this $20 million retail account
Steve’s breakdown: Sometimes we just wonder what happened to an account. That’s the deal with Maaco and their almost perfect hashtag #Maacover. Maybe it way so perfect when they executed the campaign it got lost. Maybe they just need a #DoOver.
Here’s the story the New York Times published when they launched #Maacover with so much promise and with a new ad agency.
CHARLOTTE, NC: A chain that spruces up customers’ cars is trying to spruce up its own image.
The chain is Maaco, whose franchised stores specialize in body repair work and painting cars. Maaco, owned by a company named Driven Brands, was long known for advertising that carried the theme “Uh-oh, better get Maaco,” meant to attract car owners to the chain’s sales, deals and other price promotions.
At first, the “Uh-oh” ads were straightforward. In later years, the company embraced the camp value of the campaign by featuring B-list celebritieslike Charo.
A campaign that began last month signals a significant change for Maaco. The campaign, with a budget estimated at $25 million, is the first work from Maaco’s new agency, Pitch, based in Culver City, Calif.
Rather than taking the type of hard-sell approach that Maaco has used for decades, the new campaign wants to travel the high road: developing an image for the Maaco brand as the champion of second chances and fresh starts for “the not-new car.”
Ads in the campaign celebrate “potential” and “the idea that it’s better to see things not as they are, but for what they could be.”
“At Maaco, we don’t think new is necessarily better,” an announcer says in an anthemlike commercial that kicked off the campaign. “Sometimes the fact that it’s yours is all that matters.”
“So instead of giving up on the car you used to love,” the announcer says, “bring it to Maaco.”
The campaign still has roots in Maaco’s heritage in that there is again a device meant to help consumers remember the Maaco name. This time, it is not a rhyme like “Uh-oh, better get Maaco,” but rather a mnemonic device that plays off the brand: “It’s time for a Maacover.”
In addition to commercials, the campaign will include other, more contemporary media choices to underline that Maaco is changing. They include a redesigned Web site, mobile ads, digital ads and a major presence in social media like Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter and YouTube.
The central role that Maaco and Pitch hope Twitter will play in the campaign is demonstrated by the fact that the ads render “Maacover” as “#Maacover,” including the hashtag symbol.
Twitter also has a role in an innovative element of the campaign called Twestimates. Potential customers are invited to send photographs of their cars or trucks to Maaco, using a special Twitter handle, @Maacover. They will receive estimates of what it might cost to restore the vehicles, along with links to local Maaco stores and coupons for 10 percent off repair services.
Maaco hired Pitch as its creative agency in February, less than eight months after the company awarded its account to a Philadelphia agency, Red Tettemer & Partners. The shift came after the arrival of a new vice president and chief marketing officer at Maaco, Chris Furse, who came from Burger King, where he worked with Pitch.
“The lure for me in coming to Maaco was the ability to kind of reinvent an iconic, to a degree, American brand,” says Mr. Furse, who is based at the Driven Brands office in Charlotte, N.C.
“Uh-oh, better get Maaco” is “one of the great all-time brand advertising tag lines,” Mr. Furse says, and the public still recalls the “fun, kitschy advertising” that the company ran.
But all that was decades ago, he adds, and Maaco needed to be reinvented “for the modern era.”
“I wanted to bring Pitch on board and have a more creative and strategic partner at the table” during that process, Mr. Furse says, “someone I knew and trusted.”
Research found a good deal of awareness of the Maaco name, he adds, but in many instances that knowledge went only so far as to identify the company as “something in the car industry.”
It was “more like passing familiarity,” Mr. Furse says, which represented “a big challenge.”
All the sales and deals Maaco offered consumers gave the brand an image as “a value-based proposition, which is not a bad place” to be when the economy is still so bumpy, he adds, but the “promotion-driven” ads overshadowed other attributes.
The danger is that over time, “your equity is couched in the half-off special and you don’t mean much beyond that,” Mr. Furse says. “As a brand, you’ve got to stand for something, and that’s what we’ve been working on.”
“If you’re Coke, you mean happiness, and if you’re Nike, you mean performance,” he adds. “Pitch and I were batting that around, and we loved the idea that Maaco stands for the idea of potential.”
“It’s a human theme, an American theme,” he adds, and enables Maaco to be more than just a company that will “paint a car, fix some dents.”
“As a brand, we see that car and say, ‘We can make it look as beautiful as the day you got it,’ ” Mr. Furse says. “Our internal brand statement is, ‘Maaco turns the car you drive back into the car you love.’ ”
Mr. Furse describes a letter he received from a happy customer (“I get letters from angry customers as well,” he adds) who brought a 16-year-old car into a local Maaco for a makeover before it was to be given as a gift to a nephew.
“What we deliver as a brand is that moment,” Mr. Furse says.
Xanthe Wells, executive creative director at Pitch, says that Mr. Furse “has a vision” for Maaco, adding, “He came to us and knew he had to modernize the brand, make the user experience better top to bottom.” The idea of “potential” as the focus for Maaco is “not what you expect at all,” Ms. Wells says, and “totally repositions the brand.”
“We did look at ‘Uh-oh’ and a way to bring it back,” she adds, but “Maacover” tells the story “in one word” and fits far better with the goal of a “transformation” for the Maaco brand image.
“Maacover” addresses how “when your car looks great you feel better,” Ms. Wells says, and with the economy the way it is “I thought there’s a tremendous potential to make a hero out of the guy who keeps his car for 15 years.”
“The ‘not-new car’ is a big idea for us,” she adds. “What we did was refresh the brand and refresh the idea of what car paint was.”
Asked if the campaign, or at least the introductory commercial, is too ethereal or too highfalutin for a brand like Maaco that has had such a down-to-earth image, Ms. Wells acknowledges that “was a concern.”
“It was important to tie it back to what we actually do,” she says, so the commercial features “shots of the body shop” and the employees of the Maaco shops at work on cars with “sparks flying.”
Mr. Furse says that some consumers may perceive the switch Maaco is making as “kind of a jarring move, but I feel comfortable with that move.”
“We needed to do it,” he adds. “It was time to put a stake in the ground and say this is what we’re about.”
“There will be a number of other” commercials following the first one that will be “a little more action-oriented,” Mr. Furse says, “and not so emotional in nature.”
About 20 percent of the total budget for the campaign will be spent outside the realm of traditional media like television, he adds, compared with previous campaigns that were “almost exclusively TV.”
And the television part of the campaign is being upgraded, Mr. Furse says, going from 15-second spots that were bought on a “run of schedule” basis on local stations to mostly 30-second spots with “more fixed positions, more prime time.”
The spots are appearing in local markets where Maaco franchisees operate stores, during station breaks in shows on the ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC broadcast networks.
Media planning and buying is handled internally at Maaco, and the company works with Pitch on the planning aspects, Mr. Furse says.
Response to the campaign so far has “been really good,” he adds, citing a 20 percent increase in traffic to maaco.com and the sending of more than 70 Twestimates to potential customers.
Maaco may be bringing out its new campaign just in time. Last week, Nissan Motor began advertising a new feature it calls “self-healing paint” with a campaign from TBWA/G1 in Paris, part of the TBWA Worldwide division of the Omnicom Group.