EchoPark Automotive names VaynerMedia as its first agency of record

Fast-growing used car dealer plans social media push to "identify the brand" after expansion.

EchoPark Automotive names VaynerMedia as its first agency of record

Fast-growing used car dealership EchoPark Automotive has named VaynerMedia as its first agency of record, following a pitch process that began in March. The dealership, which launched in 2014, said now that it has firmly established its infrastructure and expanded its footprint, the goal is to invest in marketing to build the brand through digital media. 

Vayner's remit is to handle creative, strategy, analytics, and more with a focus on social, said Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of the agency. The pitch process was conducted without a consultant and contenders were not disclosed.

Previously, the dealer worked with small boutique shops on a project basis, mostly aimed at media buying and search-engine marketing. 

EchoPark Automotive operates dealerships that sell 1-to-4-year-old cars, and in May expanded its lineup by adding 5-to-8-year-old cars. At the same time, the company launched an e-commerce platform allowing consumers to buy a car online and have it shipped to their home no matter the location, and in March EchoPark named Stephen Carvelli as its first ever chief technology officer.

EchoPark currently has 39 dealerships throughout the U.S. spanning the country, according to Dino Bernacchi, chief marketing officer.

“We are at the perfect point in our growth,” he said, adding that “it’s time that as we expand our footprint and our reach that we have to now expand our marketing and need to actually build the brand.”

Shifting gears

Bernacchi started working at EchoPark in October and said that’s “when the company really decided to shift gears on the trajectory of growth and start building more than just an infrastructure of locations.”

Earlier this year, EchoPark opened a delivery center in Columbus, Georgia, and two new retail hubs in Raleigh, North Carolina, and St. Louis, Missouri. During its second-quarter financial report released last month, parent company Sonic Automotive estimated that EchoPark will reach 90% of the U.S. buying population by 2025. EchoPark’s second-quarter revenue rose 12% to $665.6 million, a quarterly record for the brand.

Sonic Automotive's net income declined 17% despite a 9% rise in total revenue.

“You have to invest to grow and I think a lot of people in this category understand that it cost a lot to grow,” Bernacchi said.

Measured media spending for EchoPark dealerships was $2.7 million in 2021, up substantially from $238,000 in 2020 and $121,000 in 2019, according to Kantar.

'Identify the brand'

Bernacchi said the goal is to “identify the brand” and focus on reaching its three target audiences: car lovers, experience seekers and next-generation experience seekers to make EchoPark their "preferred choice." 

“We looked at what mediums and media and what is it [the target audience] looks for in helping make their decision and the vast majority use social media as a source in their research,” Bernacchi said. He added that during the RFP process, some agencies that he declined to identify went head-first with a script of a TV spot, but Vayner led with social.

“Everything we do is consumer-centric. So, at this point, we do believe that most brands are going to find themselves in four, five or six [social media] platforms,” Vaynerchuk said, adding that the agency sees “real opportunities” on platforms like Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouTube, not just the typical ones like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Up and down market 

The pandemic caused a shift in the auto industry, causing persistent industrywide supply chain disruptions and inventory constraints. New vehicle sales were down 15% at the end of 2020, while used vehicle sales were down 6% year over year, according to TrueCar.

However, by August of last year, intent to purchase new and used cars was almost back to pre-COVID-19 levels, according to McKinsey.

The first campaign from the pair is set to launch in the coming months.