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Canada's huggable brand dealer

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We've all seen or at least heard about those surveys where they list the least trusted professions.


They vary a bit but not much – they are usually pretty consistent. Like this one from Journalists come in at number #9, lawyers at #4, politicians at #2, and holding the #1 spot as the least trusted profession in Canada – used car dealers.


Hold that thought for a minute.


I took a social media workshop a while back facilitated by David Shipley, who focuses on this kind of thing for UNB. Excellent workshop BTW that you might want to catch if this is something you are interested in, and if it is repeated, but I digress. So back on point.


In that workshop, David asked the class what we could think of as local examples of exceptional marketing.


What jumped to my mind immediately was Jim Gilbert's Wheels and Deals. I have always marveled at the success of a strategy to brand someone who sells used cars as “Canada's huggable car dealer”.


Think about it – a used car dealer of all people – the very cliché of untrustworthiness, as referenced in the typical survey above, being branded as someone you want to hug.


Most people fear used car dealers because they feel it is inevitable any encounter will end with them being ripped off.  So here is marketing that turns that whole perception on its ear by positioning this specific used car dealer as someone you want to hug; someone you actually want to be around. What a huge mountain that is to climb.


But in the case of Jim Gilbert, it has been climbed to the point where for many, Gilbert's is the only choice when it comes to trading in the old car for a newer one. That is what every entrepreneur aspires to, to be seen as not only the best choice, but the only choice.  


But credit where credit is due. Jim Gilbert got there thanks in large part to Gair Maxwell. Gair, co-founder of the Seamless Brand, a marketing and branding company based in Moncton, has just been named Canadian Speaker of the Year by TEC Canada, the top leadership development program in the country for CEOs.


This was great to see for a couple of reasons. He's very good at what he does in that he understands branding at a deeper level than most, and really is an exceptional speaker.


Watch this and you'll see what I mean




But more than that his is a success story based on taking a negative and turning it into a positive.  While we never worked together our radio careers overlapped – mine in Fredericton and his in Moncton. His was more sports oriented, where he did some pretty cool things including working as the announcer for Grand Prix Wrestling for a bit. Those of a certain age will remember how big that was in Atlantic Canada back in the day.


Later, he was working in radio news for a private radio station in Moncton and was unceremoniously let go for reasons that had little to do his abilities. It was unfair and hit him at a bad time.


But rather than lament about it, he got serious about reinventing himself. Fate took him to a workshop on branding. He embraced it, studied it, and mastered it. The epitome of having life serve you a lemon so you make lemonade.


His branding expertise and gift for public speaking has served him and his clients very well.


It's always good to see someone from our region win on the national stage. But it's particularly nice when someone overcomes a set back to get there.  And equally gratifying when it's an example of Leo Durocher being wrong.


Good on ya, Gair.



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