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ARA Home > Automotive Recycling Magazine > March-April 2011 >Special Report on Salvage: The Battle for Public Awareness
 
Special Report on Salvage: The Battle for Public Awareness
ARA makes consumer-driven branding and marketing tools available to ARA member automotive recycling facilities
You may not be aware, but there is a growing assault on the image of recycled auto parts going on right now. A recent full-page advertisement in GM Service Insights magazine portrays a dark seedy image of a mean junkyard dog in front of a pile of old dirty cars (far from an accurate image of today’s professional auto recycling facility) with the headline “Rebuilt, from what?” and text stating, “You may not be getting the whole story. Get it new instead.” Next to the text is a shiny NEW GM engine.

Three of the large automakers – Chrysler, Toyota, and Honda – have released public position statements in the last year that discourage the consumer in the use of recycled auto parts that go as far as to suggest that it will void vehicle warranties if they are used. In an effort to address this activity, the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) issued press releases calling out automakers on their statements and calling for the United States Attorney General to create a special council to investigate this anti-trust activity by the manufacturers.

Have we got your attention?

ARA’s efforts don’t just rest there on the regulatory front. In an exciting new effort to help enhance the public’s perception of the industry, ARA is currently developing a wide range of marketing tools to brand the automotive recycling industry as a professional organization, selling green, economical, and safe recycled parts.

The new marketing initiatives will soon be available to ARA member facilities only. It will include the ability to link to the soon-to-be-launched consumer information website, www.greenrecycledparts.com (right), and access to professionally produced radio spots, online ads, print ads, and video commercials – all fully customizable for each automotive recycler to brand their facility in the material. Furthermore, the use of the newly trademarked "Green Recycled Parts™" logo on all automotive recycling facility materials will be included in this package.

Only with extensive membership participation can the full impact of this effort be realized for the industry.

“The goal is in good public relations,” says ARA President Doug Reinert.

“With www.greenrecycledparts.com, ARA plans to educate the consumer on the positive aspects of using recycled auto parts. We believe a true consumer site is best to explain the industry to consumers, offering educational information and connecting consumers with our members who sell quality recycled auto parts. We want to educate consumers more about all the good that we do. Our primary website, a-r-a.org, also newly redesigned, is member-based and directed toward the industry with information on the Association.”

“The ultimate goal is to increase the market potential for our members’ parts inventories,” says ARA CEO Michael E. Wilson. “The website is one portion of it, providing education to consumers about about quality recycled auto parts, the environment, and to address misstatements made by various entities.”

The vision also includes helping collision repairers better understand the industry and helping automobile insurers deal with mistaken public perceptions when they specify recycled parts on a repair estimate. “As consumers are educated about quality recycled auto parts before they have an accident,“ Wilson continues, “they will appreciate when the insurance company specifies quality Green Recycled Parts™ that meet the performance, safety, fit, and durability standards of the new OEM for a repair.”

This effort was adapted from the hard work that began with the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association Green Parts™ logo and materials. The hope is that other international organizations in Australia, Japan, European Union, and others, will invest in this Canadian/U.S. marketing initiative in their country.

“Our activity will also aid with our efforts with various consumer groups. Regrettably, some groups take a stance based on little information. We want to help educate them, so representatives do not take public positions without being fully informed.  Like a politician, once these special interest groups stake out a publicly stated position it can be difficult to change their view. We want to be proactive and help educate them so their prospective is well-informed and the correct one,” Wilson says.

How will this work?

The campaign is a great new ARA member benefit. The promotional tools that will be media hosted on www.greenrecycledparts.com are only accessible to the membership. At first, it will be live only to members, not the public. “We want ARA members to enroll their facility in the searchable database to connect with consumers for parts before we make it live to the public,” Wilson says. Once the database is sizable, the site will launch to the public, probably sometime later this spring.

ARA members who sign up will need to agree to the ARA Code of Ethics and a Trademark Use Agreement for the Green Recycled Parts™ logo. They will then have access to all the promotional materials provided and be able to use the Green Recycled Parts logo for only their locations that have status as an ARA member facility. The goal is that the perception of the industry will be enhanced, and the ARA membership will benefit from increased sales of recycled parts.

Caryn Smith is the editor of Automotive Recycling magazine.

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