You’d be forgiven if you hadn’t heard of Carvana before the pandemic. The online used car retailer, founded in 2012, has only recently become a household name. They originally gained notoriety for their car vending machines, but more recently have focused on buying and selling cars online. An analysis of Carvana’s advertising shows that while their inception and growth has basically paralleled the steady rise of ecommerce, over the past few months their name recognition and ad airings have exploded due in no small part due to strategic advertising during the pandemic.
The first broadcast commercial of theirs we have on record is from July 17, 2019; that week they aired around 500 ads across the country. Since then, they have steadily increased their airings to just over 8K airings last week. Their trendline has been inching upward with some very heavy peaks and valleys. Like most companies, they probably didn’t know how they pandemic would affect them and so we see a dip in ad airings in early March. However, as soon as they realized they were positioned to do better than many of their competitors in the auto space, their airings shot up like a rocket. They aired their most ads during the week of June 28th, 2020 at 11,300 airings.
If you’ve seen a Carvana commercial, you’ve likely seen one the original Carvana commercial, it’s the only ad we caught in 2019 and is still running. To date, that first ad has aired over 96,000 times; that’s around 25% of total airings. The company is still in the introduction phase, their commercial focus on introducing their features, showcasing their youth and innovativeness, as well as disparaging the old way of buying cars. Most of their newest ads feature comedy duo Rob Corddry and Brian Huskey acting like pushy, intrusive car salesmen holding a meeting and they’re quite funny.
The carvana advertising strategy is geographically smart too. They’re not just focusing on the biggest markets, but as you can see below, they’re also putting money in places like Atlanta and Denver that are attracting large populations of young people; people who likely have little or no experience with buying a car in person. If you watch The Price is Right, you’ve likely seen a Carvana ad as they’ve aired 79,000 ads on the program; almost double their next most popular program The Talk. Daytime is far and away the most popular time for Carvana ad airings with 194,000 airings during daytime programs during the past year. Late fringe is the next up with 28,000 ad airings. If current trends hold, we will likely see a whole lot more Carvana advertising during the next few years as online car shopping continues to gain traction.