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Top priority: Reassuring customers that credit is available

November 17, 2010

The CATA has refocused its $1.8 million annual advertising campaign on behalf of its dealer members to confront the current economic turmoil and associated consumer concerns about access to credit.

The tight credit market has led to double-digit drops in year-over-year dealership sales figures, as many car buyers worry about whether they will be able to finance their purchases. That is troublesome when 94 percent of new-car purchases are financed.

On hiatus are CATA messages that use the association’s Web portal,, as a conduit to champion new-car dealerships as the preferred place to go for vehicle service and to buy quality used vehicles.

Instead, television and radio spots that debuted in late October reassure consumers that new-car dealers have access to financing. The script of the 30-second radio ad:

"Despite what you might have heard in the news, financing to buy a new or used car is readily available from new-car dealers. Every day, our dealers work on behalf of their customers to obtain financing.

"Last year alone, Chicagoland new-car dealers arranged more than $8 billion in financing for their customers. Plus, it’s a buyer’s market right now, with plenty of year-end incentives and low-rate financing deals.

"Put your new-car dealer to work for you. Log onto to find a dealer today."

John Webb, who leads the media strategy committee of the CATA board of directors, said "We’ve got to confront the negative message of the media, that there is no money out there to borrow."

Webb said other dealers he talked to are including similar messages in their own advertising. And while General Motors credit arm GMAC, for one, now requires a credit score of 700 or better for a car loan, Webb said "The struggles for bad-credit people are the same now as a year ago."