Monday, October 20, 2008
What makes auto manufacturers think they make great film studios? I think all of this goes back to BMW Films and their well-received series from several years ago. Unfortunately, Lexus has decided to throw their hat in with L/Studio, a new web experience that features several unique webisodes and documentaries that is “an eclectic collection of unique perspectives meant to inspire you… and to help you innovate in your own way.”
Now when I think about innovation I don’t think smarmy, poorly written comedy webisodes staring Lisa Kudrow (of Phoebe from Friends fame.) Nor do I think about brief documentaries about high-heeled shoes, so it isn’t clear what inspires innovation from the content on L/Studio. There is one video called “The Long Run” that covers the conditioning of an ultra marathon runner but this is really more about motivation than it is about innovation. If inspiring innovation was really their cue, the documentaries provided by Acura on the Acura Advance campaign are probably more inline with Lexus’ goal. At least with the Acura site, one gets a glimpse into the lives of truly innovative people who are impacting our world and not just some trite attempt at comedy.
Besides content not really fitting the objectives set by Lexus, whom is this supposed to appeal to? Since this is a luxury brand, it must be trying to appeal to luxury buyers and content like the baby boomer Ray Manzarek from The Doors segments or the high-heel documentary certainly reach an older more established consumer. The high-heel documentary that is currently being run as an online media spot on YouTube with the message of “The Height of Obsession” and a pair of black stiletto heels appeals to any woman I suppose, considering I have yet to meet a woman who isn’t into shoes, but once consumers get to L/Studio do they ever go back?
Repeat visits is something Lexus is expecting since there is a whole registration process one can do where you can add friends from L/Studio’s current user community, recommend videos, or mark some as favorites. This part of the site is the most baffling. Am I really going to have any social network here? Most likely not. I found only one user of the site who made a recommendation of a video after looking at about 20 random profiles using the “Find a user” tool. A social community online is usually an expression of your offline world, you “friend” people you know and with some minor exceptions you reach beyond your real world social networks. The lack of any real networking on L/Studio is really not surprising since the ‘invite a friend’ capability is hard to find on the site and inviting friends to sites is something people rarely do. And if L/Studio is all about attracting a 30-40 something luxury consumers, inviting friends and engaging in a social network on an automotive funded video site with limited content is even more highly unlikely.
So, what should Lexus have done with all of this content? They at least should’ve made the video content more viral by allowing viewers to post the videos within social networking sites instead of assuming people would become part of a L/Studio community and invite all their friends. The video content should’ve also been posted on YouTube to get the content into a place where video is most expected to be on the web. So, extending content into more likely environments instead of driving consumers to a campaign site with an unknown, vague brand like L/Studio seems futile.
I also think the mission of L/Studio to “inspire innovation” is really lost by the content that was developed for the site. The content is just all over the place and really there is no common thread or anything that really inspires one. Most of it is contrived, sitcom-like content that looked like a way to keep writers busy during the 2007-08 writers strike and the documentaries really are not that captivating, and I’m a huge fan of documentary film. So content alignment to the goals of the site really needs to be addressed. Is it entertainment? Is it motivation? Is it for musicians? What is it? It isn’t clear and unfortunately leads to a site with no defined audience, which like most sites with undefined audiences will live a brief life since it will fail to gain a vibrant audience.
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