Creating Your Successful Co-op Process

By: Muhammad Yasin

Co-op advertising is something that every dealership should take advantage of. Although, let’s be real… that’s often easier said than done. You might think you’ve created a co-op eligible campaign, but then you find that there are several revisions that need to be made in order to get it approved. Trying to parse through guidelines to find something that applies to your current marketing efforts is challenging! And, none of this even takes into account that you should be focusing on the theme and making sure that the messaging mirrors that of the OEM!

So, what makes a co-op campaign successful? Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your co-op campaigns. 

Download Necessary Materials 

First, you need to make sure you have the links to the OEM Marketing Site for your make. This will allow you access to the vehicle images and logos that you will need for your marketing.

Next, you need to get access to your co-op guidelines. Most of the time, these are on the OEM Marketing Site — but there are a few that require you to get access to the dealership dashboard first. Reach out to your OEM if you have difficulty finding this information.

Plan Ahead

Before you start designing compliant advertising, make sure you have a plan in place that lays out your design, pre-approval and reimbursement process. You need to have a good plan in place around creating and submitting your ads for pre-approval. Work with your operations team to make sure they’re not only aware of what documents you need for reimbursement (itemized invoices, postal documents, etc.) but also when you will need them.

Prepare to Revise Your Ads

Co-op ad rejections happen often, so be prepared to make tweaks, regardless of how slight or nonsensical they might seem. Generally, you’ll receive an email from the manufacturer detailing why an ad was declined. A good tip is to simply call the Administrative Agency in charge of co-op for your manufacturer to get clarification. Sometimes the instructions you get back with the decline e-mail are not very specific, so a quick call can help you quickly solve the problem!

Post Ad Approval

Once you’ve gotten approval and run the ad, you can start the claim reimbursement process. Since you have a plan in place, you should already have everything you need from your ops team. Every OEM’s process is slightly different, but generally it involves providing a co-op form, itemized invoice, postal documentation (for direct mail-if applicable) and a live sample of the advertising. You can locate the specific documentation for each media type in the co-op requirements.

If you receive notification that your claim has been denied, you should call the Administration Agency immediately to confirm which documents they are missing. They will let you know the timeline in which you need to submit the missing documents. The faster you get them to the OEM, the better off you’ll be.

As you can see, there’s a lot to co-op advertising. Luckily, with some pre-planning, you can be prepared and ensure you receive the maximum reimbursement. I’ll leave you with two more general tips that might help:

  1. Make sure your ads are pre-approved before handing them to sales. This might seem like common sense, but folks will often sent those ads to managers, who then send it to their staff without realizing that it hasn’t went through final approval.
  2. Use an approved piece as a general template for future campaigns. Simply change the design and leave the majority of co-op requirements as is!
  3. Make sure you have a solid process for declined ads and claim documentation. Work with your operations team to identify a hair on fire process to prioritize declined ads!

If you have any questions about co-op or would like to discuss us helping, please reach out to me at: or request a consultation here!