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Autotrader Bets on Indie Band Sjowgren in Its Latest Hook for Millennial Car Buyers


In its latest effort to pitch Autotrader to the 18- to 35-year-old crowd, Zambezi casts the online service as a kind of Tinder for millennials looking to hook up with new cars.

Our story takes place in and around a music festival, where a millennial guy and gal, dissatisfied with their respective means of transportation—and in the girl's case, her current boyfriend—form an instant attraction. 

"We wanted to create a story with a strong music track at its core," Zambezi executive creative director Josh DiMarcantonio tells AdFreak. "We got to talking and realized we all had memorable and unexpected encounters at or on the way to music festivals. We liked the idea of randomly finding love at one of them and having the song become the soundtrack of their meeting." 

"Seventeen," a shimmery slice of piano pop by Bay Area indie band Sjowgren, captures the spirit of young love. The band even makes a cameo during the spot:

"One of our ACDs, Ben George, came across 'Seventeen' by Sjowgren through a Spotify search," DiMarcantonio says. "At the time, the band still had full-time day jobs, less than 100,000 plays and a four-song EP. By the time the commercial was finished, 'Seventeen' was up to 7.7 million plays. The band is now transitioning to become full-time musicians and working on its first album."

Throughout the ad, Autotrader search windows pop up to punctuate the narrative, illustrating how events in people's lives can influence what they're looking for in a car. For example, in the scene where Sjowgren performs, the term "Premium Audio" appears. 

This client and agency have driven down similar roads before with millennial-themed spots "The Journey" and "One Search." Here, in "Concert," director M Blash succeeds at conveying the earnest, goofy essence of young love at first sight, and relating it to the brand's ability to make the car-buying experience easier and more enjoyable. 

Boy meets girl. Boy and girl drive off happily ever after. If only life were so sweet and simple.

Client: Autotrader
Agency: Zambezi
Founder + CEO: Chris Raih
Executive Creative Director: Josh DiMarcantonio
Associate Creative Director: Ben George
Associate Creative Director: Nick Rodgers
Sr. Art Director: Max Pollak
Sr. Copywriter: Brian Hallisey
Jr. Art Director: Sean Jackson
Managing Director: Pete Brown
Head of Content: Alex Cohn
Producer: Andrew Gage
Account Director: Matt Kline
Account Supervisor: Lauren Bondell
Account Executive: Tori Tessalone
Chief Strategy Officer: Kristina Jenkins
Group Strategy Director: Ryan Richards

Production Company: The Directors' Bureau
Director: M Blash
Director of Photography: Jas Shelton
Production Designer: Noel McCarthy
Executive Producer: Elizabeth Minzes
Line Producer: Benjamin Gilovitz

Post Production: Blink Studios
Editor: Ling Ly
Assistant Editors: Sasha Perry & Paul Oh
Audio: Blink Studios
Audio Mixer/Designer: John Reese
Color: MPC
Executive Producer: Meghan Lang
Producer: Rebecca Boorsman
Colorist: Mark Gethin
VFX: Zoic Studios
Executive Producer: Ian Unterreiner
Producer: Alyssa Evans
Flame Artist: Adam Flynn

Song: "Seventeen"
Composed and Performed by Sjowgren

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