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Dealers Try ‘Pimp My Ride’ Promos

Some retailers are borrowing from MTV’s popular “Pimp My Ride” theme and using it as a new means of promotion and advertising.

One of the more unique “Pimp My Ride” contests was undertaken by Jimmy’s Car Stereo, Auburn, Ala., this summer.

Owner Jimmy Jarrell teamed with local TV station WLGA in Opelika, Ala., for an “Extreme Makeover Contest.” The station organized a drawing for a free car makeover, which became one of the hottest promotions in the region, according to WLGA’s station manager Walter Dix.

It enlisted a local body shop, upholstery shop, tint shop and muffler shop along with Jimmy’s Car Stereo, with each contributing a portion of the $11,000-plus car makeover fee.

The station promoted the drawing and received 10,000 entries in a tri-town area of 200,000 people. On the day of the drawing in July, between 800 and 1,000 people showed up for the event, said Dix and Jarrell.

“There were more people than had ever been in the mall at one time. The mayor and everyone was there to do the drawing,” said Jarrell. About a thousand people also showed up for the unveiling of the finished product at a local Kmart.

The contest winners Julie and Donald Thompson of Wedowee, Ala., happened to own a 1936 Ford coupe that they chose for the overhaul.

Jarrell said the interest in the contest and the business it generated outweighed his expenses, and he’s planning another promotion in a few months.

Bill McDowell, owner of Electronics in Boaz, Ala., said he’s planning a similar promotion through a local access cable TV station.

Other retailers including Autosound of Lexington, Lexington, Ky., and Empress Audio, Gautier, Miss., have run related promotions or advertising campaigns.

Autosound of Lexington purchased a regular running 30-minute infomercial on the local public access cable station that features some of the hot vehicles of its preferred customers. “The people who [customize their cars] do it to brag about it, and then we put them on TV and let them talk about it,” said Autosound of Lexington’s CEO Harvey Wright. During the half hour, the camera moves inside the store for a look at new autosound technology, and there are three “commercial breaks” in the segment on the store’s product lines.

Wright said he spends about $1,500 a month on the promotion, which started in October. He diverted his regular ad budget into the new venture. He said it’s too soon to see the actual benefit, although “we’ve definitely had a lot of people who say they’ve seen it.”

“We’re trying to reach a demographic that has been intensely hit by advertising from day one of their lives. [Traditional advertising] just doesn’t work for a lot of those people anymore, so we’re doing a new concept and saying, ‘Here’s the fun of it,’” he said.