Exotic car dealers may need to change their ways if they want to keep a celeb’s business.
The fact that Facebook can easily weather a $5 billion fine from the Federal Trade Commission for carelessly handling and capitalizing on its users' data is because it makes so much money that $5 billion is just a pinprick to the company. Facebook's gargantuan source of income may be a puzzle to its users, who pay nothing to use its service, but is less of a mystery to advertisers who pay for users' data as if it were digital gold.
Ads, however, are not the only way to make money using Facebook or its subsidiaries. Another way to do so is by selling cars, as The New York Times discovered when talking to RD Whittington, a car dealer who has made a name selling high-end luxury cars to celebrities using his Instagram account.
It all began when Whittington posted a video of a Mercedes AMG 6x6 on his Instagram account and received a message asking if the car was on sale. Whittington replied that it was, and he was then asked for photos of the interior. After showing it off, the client, rapper TMG Fresh, agreed to buy it and wired him a seven-figure sum for the privilege of owning the car.
That touched off Whittington's foray into the world of selling cars online, sight unseen. While his family comes from a long line of car people including dealership owners, Indianapolis 500 participants, and a 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, Whittington has carved out his own niche by advertising exotic cars with pictures or a short video on Instagram and fishing up six- or seven-figure sales by doing so. Even Chris Brown bought a Mercedes-Maybach convertible, Lamborghini Urus and two Rolls-Royce Cullinans on a whim simply by texting Whittington before boarding a flight to Australia.
Part of the reason for Whittington's success is that he has cultivated a reputation for being a first-class car dealer - capable of sorting out issues and getting customers insurance or even a driver's license when the situation requires - which is exactly what you need if you expect celebrities to wire you millions for cars without even meeting you.
And according to Jamie Foxx, one of Whittington's friends, the man's reputation has been earned for a good reason. "It's beyond the cars," said Foxx. "There are no hiccups. RD [Whittington] is beyond. He makes sure not just that the car is OK. He makes sure everything is OK." While Whittington's business tactic is just not the norm, it's proof that the way we buy cars is starting to change. Even if for now, it's only for the richest and most famous of us.