Online Auto Retailer Goes to the Street

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Online automotive retailer (, Santa Clara, CA, Friday launched 'Where's Otto,' an campaign it claims will drive traffic to its Web site while bringing the online world offline.

Online banner ads on Yahoo!, Netscape and Lycos first inform browsers about the eight-day, eight-state trip taken by Otto, the company's 1998 Volkswagen Beetle. People on the street who spot Otto, decorated with bright colors and the logo, are asked to visit the Web site to fill out an official entry form describing the date, time and location they spotted it.

According to, participating contestants are "Otto-matically" eligible to win a prize of $1,000. There will only be one prize awarded.

"The main goal of this campaign is to drive traffic to the site," said Anita Corona, director of communications at

"The 'Where's Otto' campaign is designed to communicate the popular appeal and user-friendly personality of," said Michele Hickford, vice-president of marketing at "By taking our message on the road, we're extending our brand to reach new audiences in a unique and unconventional way. Otto is bringing the experience of 'Everything for autos on the Web' directly to the public."

By the end of the first day Otto drove through Sacramento, CA, and Reno, NV, Winnemuca, NV, and Wells, NV. Throughout the eight-day trip he will also be traveling through Salt Lake City; Santa Fe, NM; Green River, WY; Albuquerque, NM; Rawlings, WY; Gallup, NM; Cheyenne, WY; Flagstaff, AZ; Rapid City, SD; Las Vegas; Denver; Bakersfield, CA; and Pueblo, CO. is a site where consumers can go to research information before making a purchase, get information that will assist them in selling their cars, determine the value of their cars and conduct a free lemon check of their cars. According to Corona, contributes to more than $800 million worth of car sales each month.

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