Meet the startup making a multi-million pound bet on marketing

Aiming to disrupt the way the UK buys used cars, Cazoo has embarked on a ambitious plan to take the business from startup to household name.

Used car startup Cazoo is on a mission to promote car buying confidence across the UK with a multi-million pound marketing investment aimed at disrupting the used car market.

The brainchild of Love Film and Zoopla founder Alex Chesterman, the startup launched on 2 December fuelled by a £80m investment and staffed by a team of 200 hired over the course of just 12 months.

Chief customer officer Darren Bentley joined the executive team in July from Moneysupermarket with the aim of turning Cazoo into a household name. The service sells used cars online that are delivered to the buyer’s door with a seven-day money back guarantee.

His vision is to create a mass appeal brand that brings an element of trust and transparency to the used car market. And he has the ambition to claim a significant chunk of the 7 million used car transactions made in the UK each year.

To achieve this, Bentley is backing a holistic marketing plan encompassing a high-profile investment in TV and outdoor.

“The best way to build a brand is to have a campaign led by TV, supported by highly targeted performance marketing to help drive short-term sales targets,” he states.

“Anybody familiar with the work of Binet and Field, and Byron Sharp, would recognise a lot of that work in our marketing strategy and in the marketing investment ratios we intend to deploy over the course of the next 12 months.”

At the heart of the plan is the ‘Cazoo Yeah!’ campaign, devised by Engine and pitched as a celebration of the confidence buying a car online via Cazoo inspires.

The TV and radio ads launch today (31 January), while the print campaign went live earlier this month with a cover wrap of the Metro newspaper and placements in the Daily Mail and Metro every week since. At the same time, outdoor ads were placed at service stations and retail parks nationwide. The next phase of outdoor, launching in March, will see Cazoo wrap 250 taxis in a bid to build the presence of the brand.

There are three TV executions, three press executions, three out-of-home, three radio executions and they all feature a range of satisfied Cazoo customers.

Cazoo Metro Wrap
The Cazoo print campaign in the Metro.

“Trying to tell the story in a way that drives engagement with the creative, is well branded and drives the proposition point is quite difficult so we’ve separated it into three separate launch ads,” Bentley explains.

All the performance marketing and short-term sales activation, including Cazoo’s work with Google, Facebook and AutoTrader, is managed in-house. Bentley explains there are essentially two strands to the marketing strategy: building long-term brand awareness with its agencies Engine and Goodstuff and driving short-term sales, driven by the in-house team.

The best way to build a brand is to have a campaign led by TV, supported by highly targeted performance marketing.

Darren Bentley, Cazoo

He believes the Cazoo Yeah! platform has the longevity to evolve with the brand over the course of 2020. The TV ads will be live throughout the year, apart from November and the first half of December.

Anticipating that the radio and press messages will wear out faster, Bentley will refresh them over the summer, while the performance marketing will be always-on.

Ambitious start

Cazoo’s marketing investment is ambitious for a startup that only officially launched two months ago. Bentley admits  the level of investment is “probably unheard of” for the launch of a UK-only brand.

Confidence in the brand is driven by the clarity of the founder’s vision, the talent in the business, the significant amount of funding the startup has secured and an overall obsession with the customer that puts marketing at the heart of everything.

Upon joining the company, Bentley was clear about the role for in-house teams and agencies working together to deliver a fully functioning consumer brand. He is adamant that Cazoo’s ability to roll out an above-the-line campaign so quickly is testament to working with partners from day one.

The team did not embark on a traditional pitch process, but chose agencies to work with based on the strength of previous relationships.

Cazoo OOH
The Cazoo launch outdoor campaign.

Engine, which Bentley worked with at Moneysupermarket, was presented with the name, which was non-negotiable, and a clear vision. From there the team worked on a project by project basis on the development of the logo and the strapline, before going into “full brand system design” covering everything from the branding on the lorries transporting the cars to the TV campaign.

Being involved from the very beginning was a luxury because it is so unusual, says Engine managing director, Annie Gallimore. Chief creative officer, Paul Jordan, explains that being there from the start meant when each new member of the Cazoo marketing team joined they were aware of the relationship with Engine, which “changed the dynamic” because they could see how invested the agency was.

“It created more of the sense of a partnership between the marketing team at Cazoo and us. When you’ve got a real sense of partnership between agency and client that’s when you get your best work,” Jordan adds.

On the media buy, Cazoo  wanted to work with an independent agency that could think channel agnostically and did not have a percentage of the plan “already written by group trading deals” or based on a commission-led structure.

Darren Bentley Cazoo Chief Customer Officer
Chief customer officer Darren Bentley with the Cazoo logo.

Now working with Goodstuff, Cazoo pays the agency for the time and strategic support it provides, which is different to the relationships Bentley had experienced previously.

“The approach where you have group trading deals that agencies work to to try and prop up margins is born out of a situation where agencies don’t get paid, rewarded or recognised fairly for the time they are spending strategically working with their clients,” says Bentley.

“We didn’t want to get involved with a massive group. We wanted an independent agency that was planning led, as opposed to buying led, and we wanted an agency that was able to help us agree strategic partnerships with a handful of media owners that would then have a much closer working relationship with Cazoo.”

He explains that he cares as much about the agency’s ability to buy into the ambition and the brand story as their ability to execute, which in turn creates a genuine partnership that does not feel transactional.

“I don’t ever feel like I’ve done a big briefing session with the agency or a big cascade of what this brand is going to stand for because they have been there from the start and have been developing things as we go,” Bentley adds.

A perfect fit

He marvels at the fact that Cazoo has gone from an idea on four pieces of A4 paper to a team of 200 with 2,200 cars for sale online in just a year. The pace of growth is driven by Chesterman’s “absolute focus” and the fact there are no distractions from complex business models, legacy trading challenges or struggles with multi-market expansion.

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The team is also located on one site in London, where the customer support team is encouraged to speak every day with the product and engineering teams, customer experience director and operations division.

Reflecting on joining the company in July, Bentley describes his time so far at Cazoo as the best six months of his career.

“I can’t overstate how much of a privilege it’s been to be able to have a blank sheet of paper and your own team, put your own agencies in place and have a vision for what you want that to look like,” he explains.

“I genuinely don’t think I’ll see another opportunity like this or a brief like this again in my career.”

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