Used car sales as a profession has a rather sullied reputation. Some establishments deserve the distaste, while others work hard to take care of customers and stock their lots with good merchandise. Certified Pre-Owned vehicles are often a good bet, because they're automaker-sanctioned and undergo an extensive checklist before hitting the lot. GM is making a frontal assault on non-CPO used cars by launching UsedCarAmbush.com, expending lots of hidden camera effort and Mission: Impossible trappings to put home the point that GM's Certified Used vehicles come with a multitude of benefits.

Unfortunately, it's an epic fail, mainly because private sellers were targeted instead of shady operators. Who ever heard of a private sale offering financing, roadside assistance, or warranty? Does GM (or its agency, Mullen) really think that the guy with 8 cars on his front lawn is their sales arm's competition? It's a case of a very slick website, lots of time and money invested, but totally wrong aim. If a fuzzy-haired guy in a ratty sportcoat starts asking you about financing on that Aztek you've always regretted, punch him. That would be more compelling video than what they've got now, which is basically just private sellers getting confused with this dude's out of place questions. Press release after the jump.

[Source: GM]


GM's New Interactive Site Goes "Undercover" to Educate Consumers

Ambush Video Reveals Risks of Purchasing Used Vehicles Without Manufacturer Certification


DETROIT What would happen if you turned more than 20 undercover film and surveillance professionals with eight cameras loose to show the potential drawbacks of buying a used vehicle that is not manufacturer certified? That's what GM's Certified Used Vehicles team did and the results were not at all surprising.

GM Certified Used Vehicles, the industry's top-selling manufacturer-certified pre-owned brand*, today launched www.usedcarambush.com, an interactive web site developed to educate and entertain consumers by depicting the risks associated with purchasing a vehicle from a private seller. In contrast, the site also informs consumers in an engaging manner about the guarantees and peace of mind assurances that shoppers receive when purchasing a manufacturer certified used vehicle.

"There's great confusion among consumers about what constitutes a certified used vehicle," said Mark Mathews, director, GM Used-Vehicle Activities. "Manufacturer certified vehicles offer new-vehicle-like benefits and financing options where others do not; private sellers being the most risky option."

The GM Certified Used Vehicle's manufacturer-certified program offers such assurances as:

  • 5-Year/100,000-Mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
  • 3-Month/3,000-Mile New Vehicle Warranty Extension
  • 24/7 Roadside Assistance & Courtesy Transportation
  • CARFAX Vehicle History Report
  • 3-Day/150-Mile "No Questions Asked" Customer Satisfaction Guarantee
  • GMAC New Car-like Financing
  • Extensive 117-point inspection by factory-trained technicians

These assurances are not offered through dealer-certified programs, independent used-vehicle dealers or private parties as illustrated in the video vignettes.

The GM Certified Used Vehicles Ambush site displays surveillance style footage of the ambushes as they happen. Actual used vehicle sellers are intercepted by an MTV-Punk'd-styled actor who asks the questions that private party used-vehicle sellers often don't want to hear and interjects humor with off-the-wall requests. During one "Ambush," the actor brings out a big red house phone and asks if he can install it in the seller's home to call for roadside assistance any time, day or night.

All Ambush participants were fully informed of the intended use of the footage and were compensated for their time.

GM Certified Used Vehicle's agency, Mullen, worked closely with the GM team to conceptualize, develop and produce the video vignettes and web site. Mullen manages the account from its offices in Detroit and Wenham, MA.

"Using the hidden cameras, we were able to film our buyer attempting, in fairly bizarre fashion, to get things like financing and courtesy transportation from a private seller," said Mullen group creative director and copywriter Jim Hagar.

"We even bought one of the cars and then tried to return it a few days later with a three-day, 150-mile guarantee, claiming the seller's girlfriend was not impressed by the vehicle," said Hagar. "The goal was to do something really different and breakthrough for the category, and I'd say this is pretty different."

More than 400 hours of video footage was shot over a four-day period during March, 2008 in the Las Vegas area, with almost 20 people being "Ambushed." The Used Car Ambush site will launch with six vignettes that are arranged in an interactive way to replicate the perspective from inside a surveillance van, providing the user with the ability to control the camera motion and move between scenes. Additional vignettes will be released throughout the remainder of the year.

"The site is designed to be fun and entertaining," said Larry Pryg, national advertising and marketing manager, GM Certified Used Vehicles. "More importantly, it will engage consumers and make them well-informed shoppers. "


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