CarMax isn’t what you’d call a prolific content marketer. But late in 2017 they cleverly responded to a YouTube video and found success.

CarMax Acts Fast and Scores a Content Marketing Hit

Sometimes, quickly tapping the zeitgeist can turn into 400,000 Youtube views.


by Dave Robson

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This video, shot by a guy named Max Lanman, is a tongue in cheek attempt to sell his fiancée’s 1996 Honda Accord.

Well-produced commercials for crappy used cars are a bit of a niche subject on YouTube. There was #BuyMyVitara, which had five million views. Luxury Defined, for a 1996 Maxima GLE Sport Sedan, picked up two and a half million views. Buy My Volvo did about the same. So Lanman probably hoped to get the same amount of success those guys did, which means a lot of internet attention and a better than average offer on the car.

But Lanman got something much better. He posted his video on November 2, 2017. On November 9, a week later, CarMax posted this.

This was a real offer, by the way. Lanman and his fiancée got a cool $20,000 for a 1996 Honda Accord.

CarMax isn’t what you’d call a prolific content marketer. If you look at their other videos, you can see things like their review of the Nissan Leaf, which has 52 views, or their “How to Spot Flood Damage in a Vehicle”, which has just north of two hundred views. So in a sense, their offer to Lanman was a bit out of left field.

But it was super effective. They picked up 400,000 views on YouTube and 33,000 upvotes on Reddit (which is pretty good and put it on the front page).

So here’s the basic lesson: when it comes to tapping into internet moments, it pays to be fast.

Take another look at the Carmax video. It’s very simple. It’s just a guy at a desk. Both things are probably in Carmax’s office. If they don’t have recording equipment, video editing software, and the expertise to do these things, they could pay to get it pretty easily. The filming and video editing aren’t especially demanding in this particular case. Everything is pretty simple because that’s how you make a video on the fly. The main labour is in making the script funny, and the main challenge is making all this stuff happen fast.

Ask yourself: could my brand do something this fast? Would we be able to react quickly? Have the expertise to put something like this together?