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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Part I: How Cash for Clunkers Impacted 2009 Sales & Advertising to Attract Bargain Shoppers


There are a lot of articles out talking about a resurgence in automotive sales. As a recent LA Times article claims, “U.S. car sales are out of rut.” While there certainly is some very positive momentum that all started with Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) or more commonly known as “Cash For Clunkers”, Ford posted a pretax third-quarter profit of $357 million and General Motors has improved its market share for four straight months, the market is far from recovery.

All of this talk about improvements in the automotive market has left me wondering what is really going on, since we recently crossed 10% national unemployment and little has changed with economic fundamentals.

Did Cash For Clunkers wake people up and get them interested in car buying? Or was it simply a temporary spike where numbers returned to pre-Clunker sales? Or is something else going. Of course, I’m curious if the sales momentum in late 2009 is advertising or product related or a little of both or not really a momentum at all.

Approach

Most of the analysis done by the media is year-over-year comparisons. But if this year is highly unusual and looking back at the tanking of sales in late 2008 is naturally going to provide what looks like a surge in sales, how can we judge sales performance post Cash for Clunkers?

This analysis looks at 2009 only. I looked at sales through the first six months of 2009 (January-June) and then took an average of sales for those months to obtain an average month in 2009.



The chart looks at percentage of change from a six-month average, against the months where Cash for Clunkers was active and the following two months post the end of the Clunkers offer: September and October.

The data also only looks at non-luxury automotive brands for the companies included in the analysis. Why? The legislation applied only to cars priced below $45,000. Cash for Clunkers had a negative or non-impact on luxury car sales, so I decided to exclude it in this analysis.

One company that may seem odd here is Smart. I only included them because they were running a high profile $99/month Cash for Clunkers promotion. I was curious if it had an impact on sales.

Sales During Cash for Clunkers

Honda, Nissan and Toyota saw the most significant increases in sales in August when Cash for Clunkers was at its peak. Honda had a 90% increase while Nissan increased 89% and Toyota 78% over the 6-month 2009 average.

U.S. brands Ford, General Motors and Chrysler saw decent gains, but almost two-thirds or half the gain of their foreign counterparts. General Motors led with a 60% gain, Ford saw a 45% increase and Chrysler performed the lowest across the major brands with only a 19% improvement; though, many Chrysler dealers were caught without adequate inventories.

Truck sales were one area where American brands did fairly well. “The single most common swap - which occurred more than 8,200 times - involved Ford 150 pickup owners who took advantage of a government rebate to trade their old trucks for new Ford 150s,” according to the Associated Press.

Not surprisingly, Hyundai received a nice bump especially with some low-priced value alternatives for SUV traders with significant sales of the Tucson and Santa Fe. The Elantra, their economy car, doubled sales in August as value seekers sought alternatives to the Honda Civic, Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla which all ran into availability issues.

Smart saw a negative change in July as Cash for Clunkers started, but eventually turned positive, barely, as the program peaked in August. Unfortunately for Smart, their sole product only allows for a driver and one passenger and while the 33/41 mpg fuel-economy at first is appealing, it comes with giving up a lot like interior space and concerns for safety.

The program did what most expected it to do. It increased sales and spurred a lot of interest in new car sales. Who benefited more is really more of a political concern and caused a lot of discussion as it is easy to see the Asian automakers did very well from the program.

Marketing To Clunker Sellers

There were various efforts as automakers tried their best to attract clunker sales. Hyundai was the first out of the gate by offering trades a few weeks before the program officially started, good thing for Hyundai the government accepted the early trades.

Ford Motor Company went with their “Let Ford Recycle Your Ride” site that simplified the process for figuring out if a car qualified and then returned a list of qualifying Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicle choices. The site also included manufacturer incentives. All of this made for a very easy understanding of cost in a few simple steps. Ford was the third most popular car brand that consumers visiting this website have requested calls from a local dealer.

Chrysler had by far the easiest, most effective message with its Cash for Clunkers advertising. Their program simply promoted a “Double Cash” incentive where Chrysler matched the government’s incentive. If one qualified for a $4,500 rebate from CARS, Chrysler added another $4,500 to the purchase allowing for a $9,000 incentive! It was very impressive and a clear, effective way to communicate their offer. Unfortunately, Chrysler is suffering very low consideration due to its bankruptcy and ran into supply issues even if customers wanted a vehicle.

Toyota was “proud to be part of the US government’s program.” They promoted their most fuel efficient and most dependable car company in America message in the TV spots for the program.



GM did a Cash for Clunkers qualification experience from their corporate GM.com website. The site was similar to Ford’s where one entered in their car information and it said what GM products were eligible for trade. It however did not include additional manufacturer incentive information.

Smart, as I mentioned earlier, provided a very interesting effort to gain some interest from bargain shoppers. They promoted a $99/month payment when a clunker was traded in for a new Smart car. The low monthly payment was definitely attractive and looked great in large print. Unfortunately, many were quick to chastise the offer as it came with a large $6,667 balloon payment at the end of the 36-month term. The full cost of the deal and the limited appeal of a two-seat car that looks like a death trap next to a Chevy Cobalt, probably caused most buyers to look elsewhere.

It was no surprise to see the small car; fuel-efficient leaders gain the most from the program. Truck sales were strong which definitely helped the home team along with a couple shining examples like the Ford Focus which led the program as the Number 1 buy of shoppers.


To be Continued (Article should be up no later than Dec 2):
Part II: Examining Post Cash for Clunkers
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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kia Microsite and Tour Reaches for Gen-Y



“We got together with a group of really cool people to celebrate Music, Film, Design, Entrepreneur Spirit and Gaming. We call them The Soul Collective”
From this continues Kia’s marketing outreach to teen and twenty-something consumers. The Kia Soul Collective was a ten-city tour promoting the Kia Soul as it showed up at concert events where show goers could get more information about the car and if they arrived between 12pm-8pm could test-drive a car. The effort was run by Cornerstone, a full-service lifestyle marketing company.

The site is divided into a various artistic interests: Music, Film, Design, Entrepreneur. All of the representatives for each section are Gen-Y up-and-comers with some established credibility. They all appeal to the creative nature of the target consumer and attempt to bring some coolness to the Kia Soul product. “Each member of the collective was tasked with demonstrating ‘how they roll’ through creating original films, art, music and more,” states the Press Release announcing the series of free concert events and the Kia Soul Collective site.

The Kia Soul is in a battle of the boxes as it launched the Soul at the same time Nissan launched their aptly named Cube and Scion had recently redesigned their xB. Kia picked up some immediate buzz with their funky hamster TV ad, which was one of the more memorable commercials of 2009. They also received some decent blogger coverage from non-automotive writers.

The Kia Soul Collective effort nixed the hamsters for turntables and nightclubs. The nice thing is there is still a connection across all of the efforts – the slogan “a new way to roll.” Roll can apply in a variety of ways and throughout the campaign has brought together rolling wheels and roll as in attitude. Connecting with artists is a natural integration in showcasing interesting people who have chosen a path that is definitely relevant to the target consumers.

There is a Flickr account setup for the event. I browsed several of the photo galleries and couldn’t find one photo with over 20 views. This isn’t uncommon from what I’ve experienced looking at all kinds of event marketing efforts brought online to Flickr. It doesn’t seem to matter what brand or product, but few people ever view these photos and probably for good reason. They only matter if you attended the event. Watching people you don’t know sign in at tables, drive around in a car, and go to a concert you didn’t attend just isn’t that compelling. It’s probably not even worth the effort to put up these galleries for any brand. Unless you have some compelling reason to do so, like they’re the first photos of the car or a celebrity is involved; otherwise, it’s not worth doing.

What is worth doing that is in the Kia Soul Collective site is the “Click Here for Your Event Photo” section where if you did attend an event you can retrieve it at the site and hopefully learn some more about the Soul’s marketing effort.

One disconnect is that there is virtually zero product information on the site. Obviously, adding product information to a hip, creative site promoting concert events could turnoff the audience Kia wishes to reach; however, providing a simple call to action to learn more about the Soul, say in the right side’s Keep Informed section would’ve been an easy way to promote the car a bit more. There is a Soul logo that is clickable to the Kia site, but clickable logos are weak Calls to Action, something stronger would’ve probably helped with what I’m guessing is a very low click-through rate to product pages.

The other question that begs asking is should this effort exist as an unique site, separate from the Kia Soul Launch experience. The Kia Soul launch site is pretty odd in its own expression and the Soul Collective effort probably could’ve lived in the existing site; instead of creating a whole other web site for people to find.

In an article from iMediaConnection called “3 Reasons to Ditch Your Microsites” author Sean X Cummings states, “Microsites are orphans. The URLs are orphans. You have to keep feeding them, housing them and clothing them, even though no one really wants them anymore.”

Looking at all the effort put into getting people to the Kia Soul Collective microsite, I wonder if Cummings is right. There is no point now that the tour is over and the content is old. No one has a reason to go here, yet Kia still feeds the site by linking to it from their shopping site at Kia.com. Why? Why have potential shoppers go to the Collective URL where you may deter their interest in your product and forget they were even interested in a Kia Soul? Internet users are fickle and you are just a click away to the next attention getter.

That’s why it’s often a better move to integrate your marketing efforts into minimal destinations like the shopping site and a launch experience, and even that you may want to combine into one single destination. I’m personally a fan of having a site for the launch efforts that are not convoluted by shopping links. Let your main site be the destination for serious buyers or product researchers. Let the launch site familiarize visitors with the campaign and key messages you want the product to communicate, not everyone is ready to start Build & Pricing and trying to find a dealership.

Anyway, the Soul Collective is another effort to combine creativity, youth and event marketing. There is nothing revolutionary here, but for what it is it subscribes to most of the fundamental elements company’s have when approaching these efforts: microsite, Flickr and a Twitter account. Being more integrated to the online efforts already in place with the Kia launch site would have alleviated the need to maintain a distinct effort, plus integration with the launch experience would’ve brought more of the digital effort into a more impactful singular effort. It still is a decent effort to reach that coveted Generation-Y demographic so many marketers wish to appeal too.
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Beyond Mud: Jeep Spreads Its Brand Wings




After seeing the “I am Ram” commercial the day of Chrysler’s grueling 8-hour media event, I thought maybe Chrysler was done – time to stick a fork in it. Fortunately, the Jeep brand’s version of “I am…” is remarkably impressive and really hits the mark.

Three spots have debuted for the “I am Jeep” campaign. The first is a nod to people who don’t just passively watch life happen in front a TV set, like I am right now as I type this and watch Always Sunny In Philadelphia. “I live. I ride. I am.” mocks the social behavior of non-Jeep people by demonstrating how passive a lot of lives are as TV screens show active lifestyles while no one is in the room, a subtle way to show Jeep owners are out doing the adventurous not watching it. It's a bit different than the atypical muddy trail ride expected from Jeep's marketing team.

“It’s Only Hair” is a more whimsical extension of Jeep’s brand identity. With women as roughly 40% of Jeep buyers, it certainly reaches a significant demographic. In the ad, several women are getting extensive salon styling work done only to hop into their Jeeps and let the open air destroy the hairstylists' work. The appeal is of interest for either gender as it knocks the vanity of our society, something that has a greater appeal than just catering to off-road drivers. The ad is "rugged", but not in the stereotypical dirt and trail way yet still hits a core brand attribute - carefree living.

The only strange part about the “It’s Only Hair” commercial is the 1970’s sitcom music track that is a bit trite; even though, it is an obvious nod at the ridiculous score of most salon product ads. Unfortunately, it’s a bit too distracting and causes the spot to lose some of its punch by being too cutesy in its execution.

Some may argue the spots lack product communication and may be too much of an emotional, lifestyle message. However, it is important to note that, at this time, product is Jeep’s weakness. They are in a product lull and need to rebuild the image while attracting more than just their hardcore enthusiasts to the brand. Reminding people what Jeep stands for is a great way to generate interest while not doing the expected tearing up of sand dunes. The brand is obviously hoping this less-rugged approach will broaden appeal.

According to Automotive News, "Jeep research found that only 30 percent of consumers are interested in true off-roading, so the brand aims to appeal to both its traditional 'adventurers' and 'dreamers', a larger group of people who are time-constrained by family and work, who want authentic gear with the hope that one day they'll be able to do more and dream less.'"

In attempt to appeal to the time-constrained Jeep consumer, “Clocks” is the other commercial that unfortunately is a bit weak when compared to the other two spots. It does encapsulate the same message and is connected to the campaign idea; however, it just lacks a bit of the charm of “It’s Only Hair” or the pulse of “I live. I ride. I am.”

The enthusiasts are not fans of the new spots, but it's really not for them. This is about extending the brand, not entrenching it. Most enthusiast forum members had things like this to say, "The concept is good, but instead of showing coffee makers, clocks, TV's it should have shown the Jeep out in nature while saying those things and then it would be perfect. Without knowing this was a Jeep commercial I was expecting it will end up with an insurance ad or about a new high tech cell phone."

Overall the campaign is interesting and while it may not appeal much to the trail seeking Jeep owner, it has another agenda to extend the joie de vivre Jeep ownership brings to those who may be intrigued to join the club. With not a lot to talk about product-wise until the new Jeep Grand Cherokee arrives in Summer 2010, this campaign is a good strategic move as the brand repairs some scars after a brutal 2009.


UPDATE from Bloomberg News 12/4/2009
: Seems the Jeep dealers are not too happy about the brand's direction and are calling for "the company to pull new television ads and restore regional marketing budgets."
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What Drives Edward? The Volvo XC60




It's highly unusual for a car company commercial to generate any buzz, but team up with this Fall's most buzz worthy film and people start watching and commenting about your ad. The latest movie that uses a car as star in a film is Twilight: New Moon. A Volvo XC60 is driven by the film's protagonist, Edward, and with fans eagerly waiting for the film's debut this Friday, the commercial is satisfying some of that need with over 240,000 views and 160 comments on YouTube. And the hysteria is reaching epic proportions with comments like this from fans, "SEXY CAR DROVE BY A SEXY˛ˇ MAN !!" Way to go Volvo, your SUV is "sexy!"

What's most intriguing about the Volvo promotion is that it extends beyond the normal email or online marketing campaign for a contest. In this case, the contest is further promoted in a TV spot which by most contest standards is quite unique. But with a popular film to tie it all together, it's providing some excellent awareness for Volvo's first entry-level luxury SUV.

The promotion online includes a sweepstakes and contest with the contest requiring visitors to solve six phases, each borrowing knowledge from fans of the Twilight series. The first to solve all six phases wins a brand-new Volvo XC60.

The contest is the most confusing thing about the promotion. I have been getting emails from Volvo promoting each phase of the contest, but every time I click to "play the latest phase" I end up at the homepage of the WhatDrivesEdward.com site instead of viewing the instructions for the latest phase. Some deep linking into the What Drives Edward site would've been very helpful.

Volvo, probably realizing most Twilight fans are in their twenties and early thirties, decided to additionally promote their entry-level car the Volvo C30. Both in email communications and on the What Drives Edward site, there are side-by-side images of the XC60 and C30 for visitors to click-on to get more information about the cars. This is a nice way to extend the product portfolio to a more relevant product for site visitors, since the SUV may not appeal best to the contest participants.

If you wish to try your Twilight knowledge, there are a few days left to get the six contest phases solved or you can just enter the sweepstakes for your chance to win a XC60.
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Monday, November 16, 2009

Subaru, the Muse of Advertising Inspiration?



I was on a plane reading the classic marketing book Where the Suckers Moon: The Life and Death of an Advertising Campaign when I came across a rather interesting remnant from Subaru’s brand campaign launch in 1992. Their big brand spot used a very familiar phrase, “May the best machine win.” Now where have I heard that before?

I had thought the “New” GM was borrowing heavy from Lee Iccoca’s Chrysler days, and I still believe that, but I never considered they were borrowing from Subaru too. GM’s “May the Best Car Win” campaign certainly sounds very similar to Subaru’s change of direction in 1992. What makes it even more interesting is that Subaru was responding to a down economy where “ostentatious living is out and practicality is in. And all of us, as consumers, are rediscovering basic values….” Sound familiar too?

It’s funny how history repeats itself. Hopefully for GM their luck with this language is more successful than Subaru’s eventual dissatisfaction with the campaign. Though, to be fair, Subaru never challenged every four-door sedan on the planet to a race. So maybe GM’s tweaks to Subaru’s concept will bear better fruit?

No Love

The other company looking back to Subaru for inspiration is Honda. One of Subaru’s main competitors has taken the concept of “Love” that Subaru used just last year and extended it for their own use in the “Everybody Loves a Honda” campaign.

Subaru’s tagline was “Love. It’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru” and it had an accompanying ad called “Love Letters”, the tells of owners thoughts about the brand. It’s definitely a similar concept to Subaru, but taken further by it’s competitor Honda.

Future Campaigns in Waiting

This got me thinking about what other ideas might be culled from Subaru’s past? Maybe there is a goldmine of creative inspiration that most consumers would never recall as Subaru’s that could be recycled by other automotive brands.

To help, here are some other campaigns from the Subaru archive that might inspire:

We Built Our Reputation By Building a Better Car

Inexpensive and Built to Stay that Way (use a cowboy too for extra-credit)

Subaru ’74 There’s So Much More

The Beauty of All-Wheel Drive

So there you have it. Copywriters can now fire up Microsoft Word and start playing with the words: change one word, reorder the words, or just expand on a concept. I’m sure there is a future campaign for someone else to execute. Good luck!
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Monday, November 9, 2009

Toyota Yaris Social Marketing on the Cheap


There is a fascinating analysis on the Toyota Yaris Australia decision to give six agencies $15,000 each to do a viral social media campaign. The winner of the agency contest could get more budget to move forward.

This is a really odd example of an automotive company dipping their toes in social media marketing. It's not as if Toyota doesn't get social media, the European Toyota marketing managers have some excellent online examples with social media elements: iQ hypermiling challenge and Aygo Car Dance Party Simulator. The team in Australia seems to be a bit disconnected by what makes great social media content which has led to some rather trite examples of social media marketing by the teams with so limited a budget.

The analysis is so good here that I'm going to just point you to this blog post by Laurel Papworth: Australia Toyota Yaris social media campaign Downfall.

Enjoy!
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Saturday, November 7, 2009

What We Can Learn from a Video Game Ad



The best automotive ad I’ve seen in a long time isn’t for a car, truck or SUV. No the best ad out there is for a video game. “An Open Door” is a television spot for the new Xbox Forza Motorsport 3 video game. I know this is unfair. It’s a commercial full of drool-worthy dream cars and besides they are not selling a car.

The ad is selling a passion, an experience. It isn’t racing cars and it isn’t crashing cars. It’s just a bunch of cars with their driver’s door wide open waiting patiently for someone to step in and mash the pedal. It’s pure emotional advertising at its best.

It’s not like most car ads, correction every car ad, that communicates the functionality of a navigation system or how an all-wheel drive system functions. Yawn...

Peter M. De Lorenzo shared a story on Autoline After Hours from a long time reader of his Auto Extremist column. Jack Jason, a car salesman from Black Rock, CT, sent De Lorenzo this comment after Peter criticized most of today’s automotive marketing in a recent column:
“You can lead a horse to water, but how can you make it drink?

Today’s marketers want to educate the horse- have it know all about the benefits of water. That’s not their job. How do you make the horse drink? Make the bastard thirsty. That’s what marketing is supposed to do. Are there any car ads that do that today? I can’t think of one and I’m dying of thirst.”
This dealer is absolutely correct. I think the reason automotive marketers have forgotten about selling desire is that the products have become so complex that everyone looks at the features list, determines what is new and what is hopefully a differentiator. Well guess what, a better navigation system doesn’t sell a car. Sure it helps, but people want a vehicle that is desirable that conveys who they are and that they are a passionate, interesting person.

Meanwhile we are off telling them how many iPods they can hookup to the stereo and which cell phone works with the hands-free calling.

Sell the desire. Learn from the Forza ad. Remember cars are for driving silly. Show people why your car is the one they want to drive and please save the instruction manual for the frustrating ownership experience.
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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Was the CTS-V Challenge a Marketing Win?


Let me get four things out of the way before my post-game analysis of the CTS-V Challenge as a marketing event. First, I love it that Bob Lutz challenged the media and followed through on it. Bob is a legend and this is why. He is a car guy through and through. Second, I think the event was a marketing success (you can stop reading now if you don't care why I think this.) Thirdly, the CTS-V is a fantastic car. Everyone felt it was competitive and it proved that, even though most race fans will tell you racing is 90% driver and 10% car. Finally, every time a marketing company does a challenge/race it is always tilted in the host's favor. It isn't about racing; it's about promotion.

Now that I have that out of the way, let's look at the CTS-V Challenge in full and most importantly understand why it was a marketing success and what other marketing teams can learn from it.

The "Race"

The idea all started when Bob Lutz made a comment at the press conference launching GM’s latest marketing campaign “May the Best Car Win.” Lutz “told reporters he would challenge anyone in any production sedan to a race around Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway and try to beat him,” What’s interesting here is this wasn’t an idea that started in a creative brainstorming to figure out how to market the CTS-V. This was Bob being Bob and later the automotive blog Jalopnik being Jalopnik.

The event probably would’ve never happened if it wasn’t for Jalopnik egging GM to commit to the challenge Lutz made. GM decided to come through, probably after watching some of the early buzz the social media was lending to the idea of such an event. Eventually applications were being taken at this micro-site.

In the marketing ideation for the event, some things were added that would later annoy most of those looking forward to the event. Sure Bob Lutz would race but GM also decided to stack the chips in their favor. The racetrack changed from Laguna Seca to the Monticello Motor Club in New York, the same track GM prepared for their CTS-V Nurburgring time. This is notable because it is a track the GM Team was very, very familiar with. Just like in golf, in racing, the more you practice on the same course the better you get to know it and improve your game. The other challengers definitely lacked this advantage.

Also, GM showed up with a ton of drivers ready to make sure if someone beat Bob that the CTS-V would still win. Most notable at the event was John Heinricy who set the Nurburgring time and was the ringer of the group. This stacking the deck with several drivers also became a way for GM PR to say things like CTS-V wins 6 or the 7 top spots in the challenge. Marketing at its best.

Where many enthusiasts felt slighted was that it was supposed to be Bob versus the challengers and when looking through the original intent of the challenge the CTS-V placed second to a 20 year old with a BMW M3. The driver, an unknown named Michael Cooper, who certainly had some track experience (everyone is trying to find out how much) but he definitely isn’t a professional or some sort of ringer like Heinricy or some of the others GM brought.

Blogger Michael Banovsky summed up the feelings of many enthusiasts when he wrote:
“While I feel that the CTS-V is certainly the fastest — or at least in the top two — of its vehicle class, the challenge and subsequent assertions that a lap time by a professional driver 'won' sour my opinion of the car.”

Measuring the Buzz

Now that a couple days have passed, it’s time to look at how the Challenge did in social media conversation.

On Twitter the most re-tweeted blog was Banovsky’s followed by GM’s own blog post on their Fastlane site. But a lot of blogs covered the event as we can see in this Buzz Metric’s report.


We can see in the graph that the CTS-V gets a decent lift in conversation with several automotive blogs covering the story. There is even some momentum going into the event. It’s also noteworthy to see the lift the BMW M3 gets and the unknown driver Michael Cooper receives from the coverage.

This is part of the problem with doing challenges. Sure your product gets talked about but so do all of your key competitors thus raising conversation for all brands. The side-effect is that everyone in the challenge sees some positive lift and gets marketed too.

Michael Cooper and his M3 also became the enthusiast favorite, after reading several blogs that covered the CTS-V Challenge, because it won on the merits of the original concept and, felt by many, to be the true winner of the event.

Chatter is the Goal


Edward Boches, Chief Creative Officer/Chief Social Officer at Mullen, shares a perspective on a recent episode of the marketing show The Bean Cast that “social media creativity is about inspiring others to tell stories for us,.. or to invite them to co-create those stories with us.” This is the new creative execution. Cadillac’s CTS-V is a perfect expression of this new creativity.

The Challenge definitely spurred a lot of conversation about Cadillac with enthusiasts. There was a lot of braggadocious talk from brand advocates supporting their own favorites before and throughout the event too.

Cadillac did miss an opportunity in the Twitterverse by not defining a hashtag for the event. Hashtags are a way to thread a conversation on Twitter that everyone can use to follow a topic. In the early stages of the race, Jalopnik defined the event as “#JalopnikvsGM”. Here is a tag cloud showing how that conversation went.


Eventually GM’s PR Team got the conversation more on their topic by using the shorter hashtag “#ctsv”. As you can see the conversation changed more in Cadillac’s favor in the following tag cloud:


There was also some traditional media coverage when NPR’s “All Things Considered” show interview Bob Lutz that afternoon and the NY Times blog picked the story up too. Buzz overall was very strong for the event and they did get a nice lift in the social media space making it a success by Boches definition of creative marketing success.

What We All Can Learn

There are several things that went right from this event. Sure it wasn’t really invented by any ad agency or creative ideation which shows that we can all learn a lot from accepting ideas that maybe spurred on by the blogosphere (GM owes most of this to Jalopnik for pressing to do it.)

What also went very well was the promotion of the event through social media, GM has a significant number of people on Twitter and strong relationships with several blogs to get the word out. Their team was tweeting when the event began at 10am and continued well into the evening after the results. Having a lot of bloggers out on Twitter talking about it helped even more since the idea wrapped a very vocal, socially adept community right from the start by challenging the bloggers. So they were part of the story from the start, whether they raced or not.

The event also provided a lot of different angles for the conversation to go. It was controversial and led to further coverage and conversation. One of the best write-ups came from the contestant from The Truth About Cars, Jack Baruth. Baruth shared his experience in details along with the excuse for his Audi S4 placing so poorly (poor production brakes) and GM being gracious enough to let him drive Lutz’s car. The whole idea of "ringers" at the event really led to a lot of conversation which really got everyone talking.

The best part is the product was front and center. Everyone who covered the event talked about the CTS-V and that's what GM really wanted.

What’s the Next Challenge?

So this got me thinking. How about a drag race with all of the Big Three Pony cars? Lutz can drag the Camaro SS. Ford’s Mark Fields can use the Ford Mustang GT500. Chrysler group’s Olivier Francois can show up with their Challenger SRT8. And this time no ringers.

Photos from the event were used with permission from http://www.carguydad.com (more photos from the event)
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