it's not a joke, especially not to the owner of a stolen Hyundai Sonata. She wasn’t laughing when Conicelli Autoplex’s Lori Hammond called her to say that the car was spotted with a bright yellow “I Spy Mr. Nice Guy” contest magnet on it, which made the Conicelli customer eligible for the dealership’s upcoming raffle drawing.
A Conicelli employee had spotted the magnet in Norristown near the East Norriton border and texted Hammond the license number.
“I looked it up in our system and was shocked when I called the woman and she said the car had been stolen three days ago,” Hammond said. “She was so excited because she loved the car. She called Norristown police and they went and recovered the car, pretty much in the same area where it was seen. She called us back that night and thanked the service department for giving her the magnet and helping her get her car back.”
Like the others who drive around town displaying the magnet and are lucky enough to be spotted, the Hyundai owner got a chance to win a variety of prizes, including a week’s stay at a New Jersey beach house worth $6,000. But it was the first time in the contest’s brief history that a phone call resulted in the recovery of a stolen car, Hammond said.
The thief apparently didn't know about the popularity of the magnet, which bears a caricature of Conicelli Autoplex owner, Mr. Nice Guy himself, Dom Conicelli, Sr.
The caricature, created by artist Mike Adams and regularly featured in marketing campaigns on TV, newspapers, and on the dealership web sites, is a tongue-in-cheek but necessary stand-in for a man who shuns the spotlight.
“Most people don’t know what Mr. Conicelli looks like … he doesn’t get in front of the camera because that’s not what he does,” noted Lori’s husband, Mike Hammond, Sr., vice president of sales and marketing. “The other day he was standing here at the dealership, and people came up to him and said, ‘Oh my God, that’s Mr. Nice Guy.’ So imagine if you’re this very successful business owner and you’ve got tens of thousands of cars driving around the city where you live, with your face on the back of the car.”
More of a friendly rendering than visual satire, Mr. Nice Guy has been shown in various identities from cowboy to quarterback to Sherlock Holmes. “The cartoon looks exactly like Mr. Conicelli,” Mike Hammond said. “When we first did this about three years ago, it was kind of a joke, and it morphed into something bigger. We kind of found a new way to market out there and at the same time create a little excitement with our own customer base. We’ve all been having a lot of fun with it.”
The Conicelli caricature was originally created to spark sales via the dealership’s website, www.ConicelliAutoplex.com. “It was designed to be the face behind our Internet presence, which we wanted to develop as a destination,”
It was pointed out that you don’t even need to be a Conicelli customer to participate. “When we started this we thought we’d buy 500 magnets and would take forever to hand them out, but we probably handed out over 10,000, maybe more,” Mr. Hammond said. “We have people who don’t do business with us who have the magnets on their cars. When dealers put their stickers on a car, most people will tell them to take it off. Here we go and put this big magnet on a car and people love it!”
To get your own I Spy Mr. Nice Guy magnet so you can be spotted and become eligible for periodic giveaways, raffles, and contests, see Conicelli's Contest Details page (http://www.conicelliautoplex.com/
Conicelli Autoplex (http://www.conicelliautoplex.com) is a family-owned new- and used-car dealership group headquartered in Conshohocken, PA, with dealerships in Conshohocken and Springfield, PA selling new and used Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota, and Scion vehicles.