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Changing Gear with Auto Trader

Sometimes it can be a glamorous life at AmazeRealise. Niamh Spence, Senior PR Account Manager and Strategist Madi Woodstock talk about their recent work on Auto Trader’s star-studded Car Confessions campaign.

Reggie Yates in front of car

Anyone who’s watched Jeremy Clarkson and his Grand Tour team would be wary of linking cars with the issues of diversity and inclusivity. But this was the bold step taken by Auto Trader who weren’t satisfied with being the leading online platform for retailing vehicles. Instead, they wanted to build a more emotional connection with new audiences.

The question was, how do you change gear, go beyond the petrol heads and engage more people through a campaign that tackles equality?

Stars and cars

Working together with Auto Trader, the concept for Car Confessions was born.

The idea was simple. A host would drive both the car and the conversation. Celebrity guests would take turns in the passenger seat and open up to the Auto Trader audience about topics including PTSD, anxiety, homophobia feminism and bipolar disorder. The guests got to choose the wheels for the journey whether that was their dream car, first car, favourite car or another reason.

The series needed to be sensitive to the topics discussed without being too serious or worthy. Casting was crucial and we worked with the Auto Trader team to decide which celebrity names felt like a good fit and had engaging stories. Finally, we had our shortlist:

  • Spice Girl Melanie C
  • Boxing legend Frank Bruno
  • DJ and personality Maya Jama
  • Rugby player Gareth Thomas
  • Special Forces hero Jason Fox
  • Charity philanthropist and presenter Katie Piper

For the host we needed someone young and fresh, with experience of tackling big and difficult issues. It didn’t take long to land on Reggie Yates – in fact he was at the top of our list from the beginning.

Ready to confess

As ever in our business, timescales were tight.  So we compiled a production checklist of everything we had to complete before our first shoot day. We enlisted a crack production team and worked the idea into something more tangible, discussing the cameras, rigs, sound and angles.

The logistics were pretty tricky including selecting a central London location, mapping out suitable driving routes and creating a clear schedule to keep everything running smoothly.

Reggie Yates and Gareth Thomas in front of a car
The team in front of a car

Move over Clarkson..

...because we’ve found another way to appeal to a car loving audience. So far, there have been almost 420,000 views of Car Confessions. Stand out episodes include Maya Jama with her enthusiastic mini driving lesson and Gareth Thomas’ heartbreaking story of revealing his sexuality and handling suicidal thoughts.

We’ve also seen some pretty impressive wins for the series including engaging a female audience that hadn’t previously interacted with the brand. Feedback from a brand survey also revealed that many people thought the quality of the series was so good that it rivalled that of BBC3.

As the 12th most visited website in the UK we are committed to reflecting the diversity in needs and tastes across our audience. In Car Confessions we tackled issues with real gravitas, and, thanks to AmazeRealise, were able to build a content series that engaged new and existing Auto Trader users in impressive numbers on multiple platforms.

— Ben Darby - Head of Marketing at Auto Trader

Take a look at the full series on the Auto Trader website here. If you’re looking for a campaign that changes your brand’s perception, or simply want to talk cars with us, then just get in touch below.

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