Auto maintenance chains race to take the lead in digital marketing

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Auto maintenance chains race to take the lead in digital marketing
Auto maintenance chains race to take the lead in digital marketing
The brand identity proudly displayed in Pep Boys' email marketing, where Manny, Moe and Jack roll out a red carpet in the 
company's welcome message, is also seen across other media. The three mascots are ubiquitous in the company's marketing materials, giving it a friendly and somewhat playful image. While AutoZone uses its red and orange branding and logo throughout its marketing collateral, it lacks the brand persona of Pep Boys. 

"From a brand perspective, it is prominently integrated into all channels and they make great use of Manny, Moe and Jack throughout," notes Cornett. 

Neither AutoZone nor Pep Boys returned calls seeking comment for this article.

Manny, Moe and Jack greet Pep Boys' Facebook fans by asking them to sign up for a sweepstakes. Pep Boys' corporate Facebook page tops out at about 34,000 fans, but that outweighs the approximately 3,500 fans of AutoZone on the social network. Experts also panned AutoZone for allowing various Facebook fan pages 
on the social network, saying it indicates the company has no 
clear social strategy. 

Pep Boys wins the popularity contest on Twitter too, where its 
@pepboysauto account has more than 1,800 followers and interacts with consumers through brand- and auto-related trivia questions and direct messages. AutoZone does not have a prominent national Twitter feed, and its most outward presence on the microblogging service is a Vacaville, Calif., store that has about 100 followers. 

AutoZone also doesn't have an answer for the site, which allows consumers to upload photos of themselves onto bobblehead dolls of the Pep Boys mascots, download brand-specific wallpaper and sign up for exclusive offers.

"Both brands have a Facebook page, but, again, here is a case where AutoZone doesn't get it," says Price. 

While AutoZone may have ignored social networks for now, that could be because its attention was focused on mobile and reaching customers on the go. AutoZone launched an iPhone application in June 2010. Its mobile app has more features than Pep Boys, allowing consumers to find stores, parts and accessories, track their rewards balance and access repair guides. But both retailers need to spend more time innovating here. "Neither has much in terms of functionality," says Price. "I don't know why Pep Boys even bothered. At least AutoZone has a storefinder and access to an online repair guide and help for finding car parts. It's much more utilitarian than the Pep Boys app."

Brand Champion

Although AutoZone has a larger national 
presence, its direct and digital marketing falls 
flat when compared to its rival. Pep Boys' social 
media work is setting the company up nicely with a new generation of customers, while 
AutoZone fails to recognize the importance of social media networks — a deciding factor in industry experts' judgments of the two brands. 

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