The dealer’s ties to Country reflect the musical preference of its president, Mike Bowsher. Even before the Nashville store opened in June 2003, Bowsher had built Carl Black’s business in Atlanta (Kennesaw and Roswell, Ga.) by advertising year-round on partner Country radio stations and offering live performances, hot dogs, burgers and other snacks, all for free, via its “Live on the Lot” events.
“’Live on the Lot’ provides our company a unique opportunity,” explained PD Sumner, VP, Carl Black Automotive Group. “Maybe you’ve never done business with us or even been to one of our stores. But you’re a big Kip Moore fan or a Luke Bryan fan or whatever the case may be. You come out to the dealership. We get to offer our hospitality. You get to see a great show and hear some great music. There’s a stage, the grills are smoking, the coolers are out and everyone is having a great time. Then, maybe somewhere down the road, when you’re in the market for a new car, you can say, ‘Hey, I’m going to give those guys over at Carl Black a chance.’ That’s how it works. All we can ask for is an opportunity.”
The dealership’s arrival in Music City raised its presence immediately within their targeted market. When it opened in Nashville, Carl Black partnered with the Country Music Association and exhibited at CMA Music Fest. “We had a popup tent, a popup table and two chairs,” Sumner recalled. “People were blown away that we were there, in the middle of the Family Zone, with artists signing autographs.”
Carl Black’s lots have become venues for new artists to connect with a demographic that loves to crank up Country on a Chevy stereo. Recent promotions at the Nashville location have included “Win It Before You Buy It” events, at which pre-release copies of CDs by artists including Kix Brooks, Little Big Town, Love and Theft and Dustin Lynch are given to the first 50 in line. The dealer also sponsors “Tailgate Tour Parties” at the Grand Ole Opry, which have featured Eric Church, Thomas Rhett, Josh Thompson and others. And those who tune in to Carl Black’s partner stations in Nashville, Atlanta (Roswell) and Orlando have heard Lee Brice extol the dealer’s vehicles, service and community spirit on commercial spots.
As for Moore, his relationship with Carl Black goes beyond the opportunity to win new fans through “Live at the Lot” appearances. For his June performance in Nashville, the company evoked “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck” by providing red sundresses for its Carl Black Girls, who are used for hospitality at events. “They give me women and they give me a truck,” Moore said, with a laugh. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”
By Bob Doerschuk
© 2012 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.