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Oct 10, 2000
Case Study

How Direct Line's Became a Top Three Car Site in Just Three Months

SUMMARY: While you might not immediately think so from the name, is the new site, launched just under three months ago by Direct Line, for buying and selling new and used cars online. With it Direct Line hope to “break the mould in Internet car retailing”.

To herald’s launch, Direct Line wanted to create “an advertising campaign that had a real distinctiveness about it,” says Justin Skinner, who manages their in-house PR. Being distinctive, he explains, meant being different from other car advertising, from other Direct Line adverts, and from other dot-com campaigns in general, in order to raise awareness, drive site visits, and encourage online sales. It was felt that the key messages to put across would be jamjar’s price savings, online part-exchange facility, and to-your-door delivery service.

Direct Line opted for a creative that highlighted the difference between purchasing from a dealership and buying a car online. It featured model people outside their model homes in ‘middle England’ discussing the REAL benefits of compared to the traditional experience of buying a car from a dealership. Because the ‘model people’ were actually actors digitally enhanced to look artificial, the overall effect of the ads was quite peculiar, easily standing out from other campaigns running at the time.

The campaign ran across targeted print and online media, and in prime time slots on television. In addition, jamjar sponsored a new car programme – ‘The Real Car Show’ – hosted by Julia Bradbury and Suggs (of ‘Madness’ fame), and aired on Granada and LWT.

To support the jamjar marketing campaign, Direct Line held a pre-launch briefing at the Dorchester Hotel. As an incentive to get journalists to attend, they announced that a free car would be given away by Suggs and Julia Bradbury during the proceedings...


The free car ploy worked – over 40 journalists and 20 media buyers attended the briefing, resulting in “a blitz” of PR and news features in the first few weeks after launch. In the first week, car sales on topped Ł1 million. Over 500 orders were placed in the first month, and more than 100 cars were delivered to customers. As month four approaches, is now receiving an average of over 5.5 million page impressions per month, and is currently rated amongst the top three car sites in the UK. Prompted recall of stands at 70%.

NOTES: We’ve been unable to obtain specific details of costs incurred. TV advertising is expensive, but if, like Direct Line, you’re in a position to afford it, it can pay dividends. Mark Godfrey, Director of Marketing, tells us “jamjar’s success has exceeded all expectations. Our first week car sales were amazing based on such low awareness, and to have achieved 70% prompted recall in two months is a measure of the effectiveness of our advertising. Some people may not think it’s pretty, but it’s done the job!”
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