Monday, April 26, 2010

GM Markets Loan Payment News

At the end of last week, General Motors proudly announced they have paid off the $8.1 billion loans it received from the United States and Canada. To mark the momentous payoff that was made five-years ahead of schedule, GM followed the announcement up with a new TV commercial featuring CEO Ed Whitacre and an email to GM's customers or potential customers.*

GM had a rough last year after it went through two CEOs and a bankruptcy. Part of the bankruptcy has been a groundswell of people who are angry with GM's decision to ask for government money so it is no surprise the loan payoff announcement last week was big news to hopefully win back customers angered by the government handout.

But was it really a loan payment or simply "an elaborate TARP money shuffle," as Senate Republican Chuck Grassley claims?

The issue is in regards to TARP funds being used to make the loan payment last week. The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was designed mainly to give money to financial institutions in exchange for future equity that government hopefully can recoup in the near future. In GM's case stock shares are given as equity when the company goes public, possibly later this year. Basically, TARP is a loan against poor assets or to some a bet on future potential of the company.

Grassley and others think GM simply took $6.7 billion of its TARP money to payoff the $8.1 billion in loans it took. This is not sitting well with those who feel the company simply shuffled borrowed government money around to give the impression the government was paid back.

Of course, the email message above says nothing about TARP funds being used or that the government is still owed a significant amount of money it hopes to get some day from the equity the government know owns in GM.

Sorting this all out gets a bit complicated. According to the New York Times, "about $43 billion that G.M. borrowed from the Treasury has not been repaid because it was converted to a 61 percent equity stake in the company. That money can be recovered only through a public stock sale, which is expected no sooner than the fourth quarter."

So was this simply a government money shuffle and more importantly does it matter?

Looking at last week's news coverage and GM's email it appears the government has been paid back and GM can now rest nicely without a government debt hanging over them. Any questions regarding GM's debt can now be dealt with as GM has given the government equity in the future company which sounds a lot better than owing a loan.

I personally think the news went very well for GM and the email was a smart touch. The only issue is will people like Senator Grassley be able to make enough noise to cancel out the positive press?

* It's tough to say who received the email above, but I'm sure I did due to signing up on a vehicle site for updates or some other GM site that asked for my email. I am not an owner though.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Autoline Detroit Talks Advertising

It’s been a very busy week for me and I haven’t had much time to catch up on some blog posts. So, here is something worth watching from Autoline Detroit. They discussed the state of the automotive advertising market covering things like Kia’s in-theater marketing effectiveness, the many-many changes of agencies by OEMS (last Friday marked the end of Cambell-Ewald doing advertising for Chevrolet) and they talked briefly about social media; though, this panel lacks some depth in this area, so it’s a light touch.

Enjoy the show. The panel does have a lot of expertise and there are some interesting thoughts especially on agency-client relationships and why the magnitude of changes has occurred.

Myself, I’ll get back to covering more news this week. There is definitely some interesting marketing going on so please stay tuned.

Link to Autoline Detroit TV Show "Just Do It!": Click here.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Toyota Marketing Goes on Defensive to Disprove "Expert"

It's one thing to issue a press release or respond publicly to criticism about your company; it's a whole other thing to start advertising your response to a crisis. Let's call this Crisis Marketing, my borrowing a phrase common from Public Relations - Crisis Management.

If you don't know about Toyota's massive, very public recall situation than you are not paying attention. Toyota is suffering a barrage of recalls affecting several vehicles. One of the more damaging recalls is the sudden acceleration issue many consumers are saying they are suffering.

This is all very reminiscent of a similar situation Audi went through back in the 1986. I had a neighbor with a beautiful Audi 5000 that was parked on a descending driveway that we all thought was sure to suddenly accelerate and plow into his garage door, at least that was what we 14 year-old kids wanted to see, but it never happened. In fact the whole Audi sudden acceleration situation was user error due to a pedal placement design, not faulty electronics.

Audi was often criticized for how it responded to their crisis by constantly saying how there was no sudden acceleration situation in their product and it took years to show there wasn't, but unfortunately the public perception damage was done and it took a decade or so for Audi to repair its image.

Marketing a Crisis Response

Toyota is trying to do that same repair and is even marketing how the sudden acceleration demonstration performed by David Gilbert for an ABC News story was a false demonstration not using the actual Toyota product design. Toyota responded with a press release stating it has, "raised serious concerns about the validity, methodology and credibility of a demonstration."

What's most interesting to me as a marketer is how Toyota is getting their story to their consumers. Toyota has bought an ad network buy to get some banners out to tell their side and publicly discredit Gilbert.

The ads feature Professor David Gilbert with copy calling Gilbert a "critic of Toyota electronics." Gilbert isn't identified by his professional title as an automotive technology professor at Southern Illinois University. To Toyota he is a critic of the company.

Then when a person clicks the ad they are taken to a landing page full of content showing why Gilbert's demo is false and Toyota's position on the sudden acceleration issue, plus their response to help concerned customers.

It's all an interesting implementation from Toyota. Instead of letting the "experts" define the issue, Toyota is fighting back with its marketing dollars to regain some ground and not let what they consider misinformation fester and contribute to a long damaging reputation similar to what Audi experience 20 years ago.

The ABC News report featuring David Gilbert:


Infiniti, First to Place Owner Reviews on Their Site

I was going to write an in-depth article this morning about Infiniti's new implementation of owner reviews on its shopping site The use of consumer reviews on an OEM website is the first implementation I have seen from a U.S. automaker.

Why is Infiniti the first to do this? I don't know. I do know that every other automaker has thought about it or has been pitched it by at least one consultant. Having been in discussion years ago about such a proposal, the big road block for many automakers is liability. Allowing people to write whatever issues or problems they have about your car on the manufacturer's own site adds a level of knowledge about a problem that could come back to cause an OEM issues say with a future recall or other litigation issue (by the way this personal example is not from my current client. It is from a past discussion with another automaker years ago.)

So Infiniti has decided to allow "owner reviews", not consumer reviews, but owner reviews. The difference is the reviews cannot be entered by just anyone. They have to entered by some who currently or in the past owned an Inifiniti. At least that's what I believe.

I tried entering an owner review on their site, but there is no place to do such a thing. I click on "Did you find this review helpful?" On one of the existing reviews and am told, "We're sorry, you must be logged in to submit feedback. Please go back and log in prior to submission."

Okay, but where do I log in? I search the navigation, looked all around the reviews section, and I even created a owner profile using a VIN number and providing some personal information. I was able to setup an owner account and log into the owner's section, but still there was no way to submit feedback on any vehicle review page.

As it stands now, I was completely unable to figure out how an owner enters a review on Infiniti's site leaving me to wonder where are these reviews coming from? I checked Yahoo Auto's since the review format looked very similar, but no luck.

It is interesting Infiniti is showing owner reviews on its site. I browsed several models and found, unsurprisingly, that most people who spent $40k-$70k on an Infiniti felt good about their decision and wrote a positive review.

There were a few issues people had with their cars and some reviews gave 3 instead of 5 stars on a few criteria. I'm also quite certain that reviews are moderated by the company, meaning they have to be approved before going live on Infiniti's site. I wanted to test this idea but with no place to enter a review I was unable to see how that process works.

Infiniti's use of owner reviews is an interesting one and research from other shopping experiences (shoes, electronics, etc.) In one 2009 study, a U.K. electronic parts supplier found that reviews increased conversions by 14.2%. Other examples exist in e-commerce research showing conversions/transactions do have a positive increase on a site when reviews are there; though, I have seen studies that it only applies to products with favorable reviews. Products with mediocre response tend to have lesser transactions.

Well it will be interesting to see who else follows Infiniti's lead or if others follow at all. Personally, I feel consumer reviews for cars exist in so many places where online auto shoppers already are, that providing them on the OEM site is rather pointless; though, I'm sure some disagree with me.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The 3 Minute Spot. The Norm for Super Cars

When you're a super car, the 60-second spot just doesn't give you enough time to showcase how awesome you are. The Pagani Zonda R released a new 3 minute video to do just that, showcase everything that is amazing about their latest sports car. Fortunately, if you produce lust-worthy, high-speed, rare vehicles the thought of getting someone to sit and watch 3 minutes of online video is not that difficult.

When planning a marketing video for online consumption, the length of the video is a very hot topic. Will people really sit through this? It's a valid concern and a lot of times most video marketing efforts could learn a lot from the brevity of Ernest Hemmingway, while the creative team gets lost in the complex expression similar to that of William Faulkner. Say things with fewer words, fewer images and more people will watch, unless you are a super car.

If you are a super car all bets are off. The advice of "keep it short" is nonsense. This video from Pagani could've been 10 minutes or 15 minutes and I still would've watched the whole thing. Unfortunately, most products don't elicit such dedication, patience or passion.

P.S. - I only did this blog post so I could talk about a sweet Zonda.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mini Owners Logged Their Top-Down Driving to Win

Site reviewed: The Open One Challenge

Mini wrapped up a contest early last February where owners of the second generation Mini Cooper convertible shared their recorded top-down driving miles through a web site called The winner ended up logging 555.5 miles. David Loveall’s Mini is his first car and will doing his traveling sales job he was able to win a trip for two to Oxford, England at the Mini factory.

I originally caught this story in the latest issue of Roundel magazine. For those who don’t know, Roundel is the monthly magazine for the BMW Car Club of America (@BMWCCA on Twitter) that’s for BMW and Mini owners. They had a small blurb about the winner of the challenge that has gone on since July 28, 2009 and ended December 31, 2009.

I’m not sure how this contest was promoted or who it was supposed to reach. There was an event logged by the Mini USA Facebook administrator but it only registered a few participants. The Mini USA website still has an active link to the Open One Challenge under the top navigation Play menu item (see image at left.)

Since this was a contest only owners could participate in, I would guess enrollment was mainly done via email or owner website outreach to get people interested in the prizing.

Mini’s press release stated, “MINI customers who entered the contest were asked to personalize a profile page with photos of their Open Motoring experience. Photos of all the participants’ journeys.”

There was a minor appeal to get non-owners involved where people could create their own photo gallery to post their own “Open Road adventures with a camera.” The Mini press release says their were some 400 participants but from what I can tell only 115 actually logged hours against their top-down driving.

The site is still up even after awarding the prize February 4, 2010; even the link is still live from the Mini USA website navigation. Content hasn’t been reworked to appeal to those who didn’t participate in the contest. Perhaps it will remain live as a site for a while. One wonders though what appeal the site has now that the contest is done? Unfortunately, the content isn’t very interesting to anyone except for those who played the game.

If you want to see several screenshots from site please check out the Behance Network’s site.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Fuel Economy Messaging Without the MPGs

While everyone is talking about 1 or 2 mile per gallon differences in fuel economy, MINI decided to put a different spin on the fuel economy message with this odd TV spot from Canada done by agency Taxi 2 in Toronto.

What I personally like is the ad is far more memorable than flashing a MPG rating next to some sheet-metal. It conveys the MINI is a fuel efficient car. Sure the MINI isn't the most fuel efficient and yes there are bigger cars with betting MPG ratings. Here the marketing team probably realized they couldn't impress with a big MPG number, so why not make the message more emotional, more interesting -- appeal to the benefit of great fuel economy.

Nicely done, even if it is a bit disturbing.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

My Presentation at Ignite Detroit

This isn't automotive marketing news, but it's still about automotive and it is some "social outreach" I participated in last February. So pardon a bit of my own self expression here.

For those who don't know what Ignite is, it is an International organization where events are held globally with people talking about any topic they have a passion for or want to share an idea, a love, or just want to express themselves through spoken word. To participate, one has 5 minutes to talk on any topic and do so with a slide deck that auto-advances every 15 seconds. Having done this, it's an interesting technique and definitely tests one's skills.

My talk shared how doing something simple like changing your car's oil can help conquer the fear of your car. In an age of massive electronics in engines full of sensors, wires, and tight engine bays doing something as simple as an oil change is a bit disconcerting to the average person; however, I share how this is a pretty simple process and helps remove fear of one's vehicle to hopefully inspire more complex automotive endeavors and hopefully turn fear of cars into a love for cars.

You'll have to pardon a bit of my early nervousness at the beginning as I mention I'm from the West Coast a few more times than I practiced. Overall, I had a blast attending and participating in this event. If you want to learn more about Ignite and possibly attend or present at an event in your city check out Ignite's website.

If you want to see some of the other presentations from the Detroit event, checkout the YouTube page here and don't miss General Motor's Social Media Director Chris Barger who also presented that evening on "Bang Your Head: What Hair Bands Can Teach Us About Being Better Businesses."

If you want to see my slides better, they are available on for viewing or downloading, simply click here.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Automakers Join the iPad iHype

Unless you live under a rock, you might know that Apple launched their latest device the iPad last Saturday. Along with the Apple hype and a lot of varying opinions about what the iPad means to computing, some automakers took the iPad plunge and did some marketing around the launch.

Hyundai definitely made the biggest splash with its announcement that their new luxury flagship (yes you read that right Hyundai is now a luxury carmaker) the $50,000+ Equus sedan will come with an iPad for its owner manual.

“Who reads a 300-page manual, anyway?' asked Mr John Krafcik, chief executive for Hyundai North America. 'Instead, they'll have a gorgeous colour touchscreen loaded with the manual, as well as photos of the whole Hyundai line-up.'

That’s right if you just bought a $50,000 plus Hyundai you’ll be reminded that you’ll be sharing the dealership service lane someday with a Hyundai Accent. Regardless, Hyundai definitely made the biggest PR splash with their iPad owner’s manual announcement with coverage across every major automotive blog, NY Times, USA Today, LA Times, and even several International publications.

Personally, I could care less about the iPad manual in the Equus. I'm more interested in how cool the backseat seating is in the Equus Long-Wheelbase edition.

Cadillac took a more expected path by being the first automaker to integrate fully into the new platform’s software/hardware capabilities with their integration into a trendy publication application for iPad called Cool Hunting. This probably would’ve been bigger news if Hyundai hadn’t usurped the car plus iPad news. The Cool Hunting application brings together some interesting style, hipster, trendy news stories and then integrates the CTS Coupe and CTS-V Coupe products into the app.

Lincoln and Toyota also showed up on the iPad with some media buys that coincided with the iPad launch. Funny thing though is that Toyota didn’t get much attention for its ad buy; rather, any Toyota buzz came from a custom stereo installer who modified the dashboard of a Toyota Tacoma to do the first iPad in-car installation. This in-car install had more buzz than the Hyundai Equus iPad manual news and made the installer the big buzz winner of all things iPad automotive related.

Lastly, some more gratuitous marketing ensued at the New York Auto Show that’s going on at the same time as the iPad launch. Volvo shared some pictures of their auto show models holding an iPad and I guess talking about how naughty the new Volvo S60 is or is it how naughty one can be in a Volvo S60? Oh well, it doesn’t matter because their effort worked and I made this attempt at iPad brand-association my blog post’s lead image.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Automotive Vehicle Facebook Fan Page Strategies

If you are a regular reader of this blog you probably know I have been doing a monthly report on Automotive Facebook Fans that covers how the automotive industry is performing in fan counts and how brands manage to develop their fan base, usually through ad buys or Facebook applications.

What I have also been doing this whole time is tracking how some vehicles are performing in the Facebook community. What I’ve noticed is there are a few strategies companies have implemented to interest their customers or aspirational fans.

Here are some approaches:

Sports Cars: Most brands create a fan page around their halo or sports car product. For example, there is a fan page for the Chevy Camaro and Chevy Corvette but no official fan page for the Chevy Malibu or Cobalt. It is important to note there are often unofficial fan pages like this one for the Malibu. (Official pages are those managed by the brand. Unofficial pages are managed by someone not from the company.)

Campaign Driven: Most of the official vehicle fan pages were started at the time a marketing campaign was launched. This was true for the Ford Fusion and the Honda CrossTour.

Every Vehicle Gets a Fan Page: Acura and Volkswagen both apply this approach that no matter how few people want to socially identify themselves as a fan of Routan or ZDX, the brand has decided to invest time to curate a fan page for every product in its portfolio.

Product Segments: Ford Trucks is one example of this where fan pages are not divided into F-150, F-250, Ranger or other truck products; instead, fans of a Ford Truck can become fans of the entire truck product line.

Similar to what we see with brand Facebook pages, vehicle pages also get big spikes in fans from “Become a Fan” marketing campaigns on the site. For example, we see a huge lift of Chevy Camaro fans between Jan 1 to March 1, 2010 when the Camaro team was running ad units to increase its fan base.

An interesting example of fan growth explosion came when the Honda CrossTour was launched and the vehicle’s wall was attacked by Honda fans who were not happy with the CrossTour design and some nastiness ensued. This, plus a “Become a Fan” marketing buy from Honda to promote the CrossTour, led to a 6,000 plus fan page growth in back in August/September 2009.

What’s most difficult for vehicle pages is the ability to continue growing fans after a marketing campaign. Sure a vehicle fan page won’t see double or triple growth percentages without some marketing, but even maintaining the typical 3-6% organic growth rate we see on Brand Fan pages is difficult for vehicle pages, unless the car is a sports car.

Why is this so? My theory is that people fan the brand more than a car. Take for instance the Lexus IS-C. When it was launched the fans grew to 300+ through some advertising buys, but in the past six months they’ve only added 11 fans (349 in 9/14/2009 to 360 3/31/2010.) Yet Lexus has added 22,000 fans in that same time frame without any ad buys within Facebook; though, Lexus does promote it’s Facebook fan page in email communications.

In summary, if your brand is more defined by only a few key vehicles where people have a lot of passion for a particular product then vehicle fan pages make a lot of sense; however, if your brand is more defined by the brand image (e.g. Lexus) then creating vehicle product pages for every car probably isn’t worth the effort and added community management complexity.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Did Mazda Canada Start Leasing Due to Twitter?

Tino Rossini is very interesting person I have come to know through social media. He is part of an automotive blog based in Canada called Strada: Energize Your Automotive Experience. The blog covers a lot of aspects common to most automotive blogs: reviews, thoughts on the industry, some motor-sports but what makes this blog a bit more unique is Tino who is a retiree with a lot of interesting perspectives and historical knowledge of the industry and also someone very engaged in social media.

Why am I sharing all this on an automotive marketing blog?

Well this morning Tino shared with me a post on his blog that shared an example of how a brand (@MazdaCanada), a dealership (@AchillesMazda), a user forum (@MazdaForums) and an automotive blogger (@stradablog) all conversed on a review of a Mazda 6 that possibly contributed to Mazda Canada offering leasing on the 6, which it wasn't doing until shortly after some exchanges on Twitter.

All of this could've just been coincidence, but it is an interesting tale and probably had some impact on the decision.

Read the article here for the full story.

This is interesting because it demonstrates a couple things 1) how brands are engaging online 2) how dealerships are actively participating 3) how forums are getting outside of message boards and on to Twitter 4) how social media can impact marketing sales strategy.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand: March 2010

It’s getting pretty interesting on Facebook these days. Facebook is finally making brand Fan pages, oops I mean Like pages – more on that later, clearly pages owned by brands. Unofficial pages will soon move to the new Facebook Community pages designation with some changes in functionality, plus if they reach some threshold of fans they turn into community ran pages (think Wiki.)

The Like pages, okay they will still be called Fan Pages, will change a commonly held behavior where people “Become a Fan” of a brand or product. Soon people will simply “Like” a brand or product page. According to Facebook, people choose Like significantly more than they choose Become a Fan; though, how is this really that surprising when one can Like just about everything on Facebook? By design, Like should garner far more clicks than Become a Fan, but someone looked at some data and didn’t think about the user interface already in place to justify the decision.

Free Cars & Basketball

The big news this month was a nicely ran promotion from Infiniti that was done to support a College Basketball bracket game on CBS Sports. Infiniti ran banner ads supporting their marketing of the new M37/M56 models where one could win a new M.

What was interesting is that Infiniti also bought some media on Facebook supporting the CBS Bracket Challenge but also gave people an opportunity to Become a Fan of the Infiniti fan page. In the day or two the ad started running on Facebook, Infiniti added around 50,000 fans. Now I never know how many impressions a brand bought to get such a gain, but it is still an impressive upswing for the brand and the combination with the College Basketball passion point surely helped increase engagement.

Jeep was an interesting one this month too. They ran a Tweet-to-Win contest to increase the exposure of their @Jeep Twitter account, but to find out when Jeep was going to ask a trivia question for their Twitter contest people had to visit the Jeep Facebook page to learn the time. One would think this promotion would also increase Facebook fan page numbers for Jeep since they were giving away a free Jeep Wrangler Islander Edition. Unfortunately, Jeep had typical fan growth that ran in the 3% increase realm for March, in other words no gain from the Tweet-to-Win contest; though they did have significant follower growth on Twitter (more here.)

Continuous Marketing

Several brands continued running ads throughout most of the month of March, if not all of March. They included Mazda, Dodge and Toyota; though, Toyota’s ads were not a promotion to increase Fans of their fan page; rather, they promoted Toyota loyalty (you can learn more about that effort by reading my post on Toyota’s marketing loyalty.)

The Mazda and Dodge ads were constantly showing up on my Facebook pages even though I’m already a fan of both brands. This makes me wonder two things. Does Facebook not support a good retargeting message capability on their site or is it that the Facebook inventory of relevant ads is so small they keep serving me the same units? Seems it could be a little of both and one would think after a brand has gained that person as a fan that other messages could be sent to support further brand engagement.


Lincoln has officially taken over their fan page and now are doing regular updates yet still not Become a Fan campaigns or promotion of the page (full disclosure: I'm involved with this effort.) Scion had asked their unofficial fan page to be identified as such last month, well now we know why as Scion has started an official Facebook page that had it's first post Monday March 29, 2010.

In European Facebook news, Aston Martin finally took ownership of a friendly URL for their fan page Also, I changed my tracking of SMART as I follow the global fan pages for BMW and MINI so it seemed appropriate to follow SMART's global page instead of it's USA specific fan page.

Download the Excel file: Facebook Auto Fan File (March 2010)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jeep and Nissan Take to the Streets of New York

With Day Two of the New York Auto Show, there were a couple of public street installations out in New York. The first was a giant sand pit erected by the Jeep marketing team for a 7am five person dig to see who from Jeep’s Tweet-to-Win Twitter contest would find a small Tiki Idol and win a Jeep Wrangler Islander edition. The other installation comes from the Nissan marketing team to promote their Journey to Zero website.

I decided to follow the Jeep contest thanks to a web link they provided to watch the event on a live web feed. Unfortunately, I had to create an account to view the feed and there was no chat offering, which has become pretty standard for live webcast events. Also, it was unclear how many people watched the live feed but at 7am and with few people at the live event, besides some media and a bunch of Jeep PR people it was probably a small gathering online too, not that any event like this attracts a lot of people for any brand.

The video with the most views from the dig on Jeep’s YouTube channel had 80 views when I looked late this afternoon. Though, they did get some nice coverage from the Detroit Free Press and the Naples News too.

The bigger news from Jeep is that this was the kickoff of their next giveaway. Mike Manley, President and CEO of the Jeep brand, mentioned at this morning’s event that Jeep is giving away three more Jeep Wrangler Islander Editions as they place three Tiki Idols in hidden spots across the United States. Tips to where they are will be made available through a site he said was live this morning, unfortunately the site is still not live and I will continue to check it to see how the site is laid out and communicates the contest. So stay tuned for an update on that.

Environment to be Saved By Zero

Nissan, however, has their website live for the Journey to Zero marketing campaign. This is in alignment with Nissan’s coming LEAF all electric vehicle that is changing the mobility equation. Visitors can get to the LEAF U.S. and Japanese websites through the About section of this campaign site.

The site features TED organizer and speaker Richard Saul Wurman. Content is all about a world with zero CO2 emissions and what that means to global environmental impact.

This one completely missed my radar even though I’ve been to the Nissan LEAF website, I’m part of the email curriculum for the campaign, and belong to their Facebook and Twitter communities. I’m really not sure how one finds out about this effort and judging by the views on the campaign’s YouTube Channel, not many others found out about it either; though, a Fast Company blogger did. Perhaps more will get to know about it as they wonder the streets of New York where Nissan has several rows of front and back seats ironically lined on a city bike path with a sign promoting the Journey to Zero message.

Looking at the web experience the campaign was probably marketed to niche creatives and greens who might have the patience to put up with the frustrating web experience that causes the page to float everywhere as one’s mouse is moved across the page. The navigation also is hard to use as it appears and disappears quickly if one doesn’t hold one’s mouse to the most left area of the page.

Fortunately some people did take the time to use the site and even enter a contest called “Inspired by Zero” that had artists submit works to express the idea of zero emissions. Winners have already been chosen with prizing being a couple cameras and an Apple MacBook Pro.

The site also features some social media outreach functionality allowing visitors to add flair to their Facebook pages or images to their Twitter profiles. One can even create their own poster to save and email to all their friends.

I wonder if anyone actually did any of this? It all goes back to consumer value and the site's social graffiti really doesn't have much of a benefit beyond promoting the Nissan site, which is really to Nissan's benefit not the site visitor's benefit.

Seeing how little was done to promote this site it and the effort launched over three months ago without much fanfare, maybe Nissan is now trying to breathe some life into the effort on the trendy streets of New York City causing the hip the take notice of how the LEAF is environmentally acceptable for our world.

- Photo of Journey to Zero seats on streets of New York City used by permission from