Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Extending Your Brand Through Song

Marketing has brought cars with music together for decades. Ads like Cadillac’s infamous Break Through spot featuring the energy of Led Zepplin along with a strong Baby Boomer emotional appeal or the wholesome goodness of Dina Shore singing “See the USA in your Chevrolet” all have their place in automotive and music history.

Some things never change, as there seems to be a surge in music and automotive marketing. It seems all brands – luxury and non-luxury – have found some sort of alignment with the passion music brings to a product and with so many genres of music and so many vehicles with different audiences finding the right fit may be easier than ever.

Shakira Shakes Her Hips for Seat

One of my favorite integrations comes from Volkswagen’s European Seat brand featuring Shakira. The campaign is developed around one song: Good Stuff. The Seat Good Stuff website is full of music, cars, games and chances to win tickets. Sharkira’s wild hair and long legs take prominence over the Seat Ibiza, which even has a Special Edition Good Stuff model to align with the campaign. Of all the current music and automaker integrations this is the only one that has built a car for sale to the public. Seat gets the prize for having not only the most elaborate, fanciful site but they also integrated things to the product level with tinted windows, iPods, and 16” “Sonda” wheels.

The campaign is further connected through a Good Stuff Facebook fan page that currently has 3,748 fans. Like most campaign Facebook sites there is very little engagement, especially from the brand as the team in charge only posted one wall post back in February.

Overall the integration is well executed, minus the lame attempt at a Facebook presence, with plenty of artist and vehicle alignment. Bringing the experience online further strengthens the brand’s sponsorship of Shakira’s European Tour. The site has several links to listen to music, find chances to win concert tickets, extend alignment with the brand through Seat’s Club Seat member website, and let’s users easily share the content with others through common social networking sites.

Ram Trucks' Letter Writing Request

Going after a completely different demographic than Seat, Chrysler Group’s new Ram Truck brand wants its potential customers to write letters to America’s soldiers at war. All letters will be collected at Zac Brown Band concerts and Ram Truck dealerships.

"This unique endeavor is derived from respect and admiration, from both the Ram Truck Brand and Zac Brown Band, for the men and women in the military," said Marissa Hunter, Head of Ram Truck Brand Communications, Chrysler Group LLC. "It is our hope that these letters serve as a source of appreciation and comfort."

In exchange for the letters, Ram Truck will give letter writers a free special Zac Brown Band CD entitled "Breaking Southern Ground."

All of this is for the launch of Ram’s Heavy Duty truck. The “Letters for Lyrics” campaign is fully integrated into the Ram Trucks shopping website. There is a page explaining what people need to do to get the free CD and several accompanying videos are viewable on the site along with links to the Ram Heavy Duty truck. There are a few icons available to promote social sharing, but they are not prominent. The main message here is to get people to write and visit a Ram Truck dealership. Hopefully, when someone comes to get a free CD, they’ll also take a test drive in any Ram or Dodge product (the two brands share the same dealer network.)

Lincoln Music

Early this year our team at Lincoln launched the Lincoln Music Experience Sweepstakes along with a Lincoln branded Music micro-site (in full disclosure: I’m the digital brand strategist for the Lincoln and Mercury brands at Team Detroit, in case you didn’t read my bio.) Over the past three years, music has played a significant role in the re-branding of Lincoln. The ads feature a space themed design treatment and usually a reinterpretation of a classic 80s song by a breakthrough brand.

To further extend Lincoln’s affiliation with music, the Lincoln and Music website originally was designed to promote a sweepstakes where one could win a Lincoln vehicle and tickets to see the band Shiny Toy Guns. Site visitors can also download music, explorer Lincoln’s THX II sound system, and had an opportunity to vote to choose the next up and coming band for the next Lincoln commercial.

And The Band Plays On

These three examples show how a variety of brands are using music to tell their product or brand story. Each vehicle segment also appeals to different target consumers and finds ways to reach out to potential customers through contests or giveaways.

All are driving consumers to the vehicle shopping pages and include some sort of social media link sharing. Since this is also about music, every site includes at least one downloadable MP3 music file to take the brand’s sound with its visitors.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Brief Life of Twitter Campaign Accounts

Well-known social media author/blogger Brian Solis once wrote, “Social Media is about breaking down barriers to engage in conversations.” Unfortunately, a lot of marketing teams forget that a social networking site like Twitter is all about conversation and to truly establish meaningful conversation you have to build a relationship with those who discuss your brand, product, or marketing effort.

Twitter accounts established solely for marketing campaigns are pointless and essentially demonstrate a marketing team that doesn’t really get what Twitter or even conversational marketing is all about – relationships.

I have been following several automotive marketing campaign Twitter accounts created to extend a campaign into the popular social media site. After watching many of these efforts, it became quite clear that the “conversation” only lasts until that campaign’s marketing team is reassigned and budget is exhausted.

This chart shows several Twitter accounts created solely for a marketing campaign or event marketing purpose. Here you can see how the accounts died a quick death, how many people followed, and how much engagement happened from the account's marketing team. One striking fact is that the average automotive marketing Twitter account is only active for 74 days (barely 2 months.)

Conversationally Challenged

Communications average 263 tweets during the limited time the accounts are active with most producing only around 100 tweets. Two campaigns here showed significantly higher engagement levels. The Hyundai @roadtrip149 account was giving away free iPods last August and this created a lot of Retweets and promotional communications for the iPod giveaways. Kia’s @KiaCollective account promoted several free concert events on its microsite that were part of its campaign which led to a lot of communications out to followers about new concert announcements.

The only account I could find that was decent at establishing relationships with their followers was the Volkswagen @SluggyPatterson campaign. The Punch Dub campaign the Twitter account references is personified by a grumpy old man named Sluggy Patterson who supposedly invented the Punch Dub game, where one punches someone the minute they see a VW. Engagement happens by interacting with this fictional character who seemed to mimic the popular Twitter identity @ShitMyDadSays. The account did enhance the marketing experience and really did work well to promote the campaign’s concept. Unfortunately, the team doing it only participated for 67 days.

All seven of the examples here are dormant Twitter accounts since they have been inactive for months. Of the seven only one account actually told its followers to follow the primary Twitter account for the brand. The @ThisisiQ account from the UK directs its followers to move to the @ToyotaGB account to continue engaging with the iQ and its blog.

Relationships Take Time Campaigns Don't Have

One thing is very clear when it comes to marketing campaign Twitter accounts, they don’t last long enough to provide any relationship with its followers and since there is no significant engagement there is no significant value. Brands really need consider if accounts like these are worth the effort? I’m sure some resources had to be funded to support the Twitter accounts and by the look of things the benefit to the brand and campaign is minuscule at best.

If marketing teams really want to bring their campaigns under the social media umbrella, they should do so using an established brand Twitter account that can be used to continue the relationship keeping it fresh and, most important, long-term.

An example of this strategic approach is what @Jeep is doing with its Tiki Hunt marketing effort. They did not establish a Tiki Hunt Twitter account to engage with people; instead, they are directing people to the @Jeep account and building followers and fostering engagement through their brand account which will continue to engage their followers long after the Tiki Hunt campaign is over.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Toyota Avalon: Now That's Entertainment!

When the average age of your customer is 66 years old, you have to get a bit creative to get some youthfulness into your marketing. This month’s Car & Driver has a full-page ad for the Toyota Avalon. The ad features three very beautiful women looking like they are going to a 1940’s dance at Hollywood’s Brown Derby.

The ad copy is all about the “Spacious Life” showcasing how roomy the Avalon is. No pun intended, it’s definitely a big selling point for the Avalon and what better way to connect with the consumer than by appealing to their youth, even if it was over a half century ago. Besides, the ad even may capture the interest of those not part of the WWII generation since ads with beautiful women is sure to intrigue any audience (sadly, this is probably what caught my interest if I’m being honest.)

There is nothing wrong or particularly great about the ad. I just found it an interesting way to appeal to your consumption target using some subtle sexiness while hearkening back to the youth of the customer in a tasteful way while still communicating the benefits of the vehicle.

Experience Continues Online

I was more surprised by a launch site that carried the "Travel Avalon Class" message into a campaign website.

Feature content transitions look like something out of MGM's That's Entertainment films. Content rotates to different theatrical stages where features are demonstrated by a host who looks like Ray Liotta and his female product demonstration model. They banter about "the big city", "the big easy", "those are fabulous shoes" and "welcome to the land of stars." It's all a bit cliche but that's the point. This is an attempt to take one back to a time when life was simple and Avalon's customers were young.

It really is a nicely done site though the transition between features takes awhile due to the creative assets loading and I do wonder about the patience of site visitors; although, if they do spend some time with the content it really is effective at explaining some very complex feature benefits that most site probably have an issue getting across to older customers. The Bluetooth and Navigation demonstrations are particularly effective here. Hopefully site visitors will notice the small font of the lower navigation so they can Build & Price and learn more.

Take a look at the site as my words can hardly explain what is going on here:


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Toyota Swaggers Into Effective Product Positioning

A few people have asked my thoughts on the Toyota Sienna campaign, particularly the idea of positioning a minivan as a “Swagger Wagon.” Well I have to say I love it. It is becoming one of the best campaigns of 2010.


1.) It gives the vehicle a distinct personality. This is rare these days. Most marketing today is about showcasing individual features of the car. Here Toyota is focusing on giving their minivan a unique positioning statement.

2.) It mocks the target consumer in a way that even the audience it is trying to reach finds it fun and unoffensive. Anyone buying a minivan has surrendered to a life of sacrificing style for function. Toyota’s marketing team has built off this surrendering by having some ridiculous fun with the parents by blending the hilarity of rapping middle-age parents, focusing on the lifestyle as if it is something to be desirable, and still maintain the product benefits to the consumer.

3.) The two actors are perfectly cast. Someone shared with me that they come off as “asshats” but I think they embody the sense that parenting has become too serious and really needs to relax. After years of parents over nurturing their kids, the time has come to get back to focusing on the needs of the parents and some relief from child rearing.

4.) Oddly enough it creates a sense of pride in the vehicle. The Sienna is no longer just another minivan it is a “Swagger Wagon” and that identity will stick. Good or bad, it will and those who buy one will find a sense of pride in owning it. Imagine pulling up to the next family holiday party in your Swagger Wagon. Now that’s style over function.

To launch the latest music video for the campaign, Toyota bought a roadblock on YouTube’s home page that featured a banner with an integrated video taking people to the Sienna YouTube channel. I looked at the ad unit early yesterday morning and there were around 40,000 views o the video. Tonight there are 466,748 views! A very impressive feat for a one-day home page ad unit; though, it wasn’t only the ad. Toyota received a lot of buzz coverage from the major and minor automotive blogs and some other media outlets because the video is actually entertaining.

The most impressive contribution, I didn’t once think about Toyota’s recall issues while watching it.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Jeep's Tiki Hunt Bound to Geographic Limitations

Well this was a first. I have never been to a contest micro-site that does not include some sort of request for visitor information and a chance to enter to win the prize.

Leave it to Jeep to be unique. They are in the second phase of a “long term social media plan for Jeep to engage with its enthusiasts and consumers alike.” The first phase was a Tweet to Win dig contest at the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS.)

Now Jeep has placed three tiki idols in three locations throughout the U.S. and has several clues on the micro-site. There are idols buried in California, Colorado and Illinois. Participants in Los Angeles and Chicago have already won two of the idols. The third and final tiki idol is hidden somewhere in Colorado with two clues left to be uncovered.

The one big issue I have with this contest is it severely limits participation, as winners must go to the location to find the hidden tikis. So, if you don’t live in Los Angeles, Chicago or Denver then you really can’t play to win. I suppose you could fly to the location to win but that seems like a long shot and major expense if you don’t get there in time before a local contestant figures it out.

Meanwhile, what is in it for the brand since there are no handraisers to add to their database? There is some engagement on the Jeep Facebook and Twitter pages but the engagement doesn’t really lead to much other than some commenting or liking of posts or maybe a retweet on Twitter.

There is a link to learn more about the Jeep Wrangler Islander edition on the micro-site, which brings people either to the vehicle landing page or one can view Jeep Gear. But that’s it. There just isn’t much in the way of leading to key engagement activities like Build & Pricing a Wrangler Islander or doing a Dealer Inventory Search.

It just seems there are some missing elements here to make this contest more effective for the company. Also, I would’ve made the hunt more virtual maybe using something like Google Street View and being the first to do a screen capture so that anyone across the country could participate to win, not just people who are physically already in the city.


Showcase Your Auto Enthusiast Prowess Win a NISMO

Nissan is appealing to their enthusiast target customer in its latest contest. The NISMO 370Z Sports Car Enthusiast Challenge & Sweepstakes does this in a fun and unique way by having contestants take a quiz for an opportunity to get more entries to win a 2010 Nissan 370Z NISMO sports car.

The contest goes through June 28, 2010 and to date has 44,388 contestants having played the game since early April. Participants get entries to win by correctly answer questions of a per day 3 question quiz, by simply returning to the site and entering their email, and can also gain more entries by sharing the site with up to 3 of their friends for up to 3 additional entries.

The share with your friends to get more entries to win is the first time I've seen an automaker incentivise contest sharing by giving a reason for people to share: more entries to win. I've never really understood sharing a contest site with others because doesn't more participants equal a worse chance to win? Here Nissan battles that issue by giving a bonus entries to the person doing the share.

Quiz questions are very effective here as the questions build more knowledge about the Nissan 370Z NISMO. It's a great way to increase interest in the vehicle to an enthusiast culture who cares about the detailed specifications of the sports car.

The site also links out to the Nissan site where contestants can choose from a variety of exit paths specific to where they are in their own shopping or interest path.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Automotive Facebook Fans Likes by Brand: April 2010

Welcome to the all-new less committal Automotive Facebook “Likes” by Brand monthly report. In case you haven’t kept up with the monthly changes in Facebook-land, the company decided to remove the Fan distinction and move to a Like action that people can do on a brand page. So that Ford Mustang you were a huge fan of, guess what? Now you just “like” it.

Oh well, maybe one can show their enthusiasm in other digital ways, perhaps by doing something we all did long before Facebook existed – add a picture of their favorite car to a computer’s wallpaper. Now that’s being a fan!

So who convinced the social community to really, really Like them the most in the month of April? Two brands definitely standout and both are very new to the Facebook fan page world so they have some major growth percentage-wise mainly because they are starting from such low fan count numbers.

Scion had a user community fan page converted to “Unofficial Scion” last month only to come out with their own page in March. In April, Scion drove up fan numbers running some simple Become a Fan ad units; thereby, increasing their fan count by 780% in April.

So who beat a 780% growth in one month? Some big trunks with menacing grilles: Ram had 1,029% growth with 18,894 fans added in one month. Ram also had Become a Fan ad units run in April to help generate such impressive growth. All of the Chrysler brands are making a strong push to advertise for fans over the past several months with major ad buys from Ram, Dodge and Jeep.

The remaining brands experienced typical fluctuations in growth. Most double-digit increases can be accounted to product releases or news. Toyota meanwhile continued with their video ad unit to showcase their response to the recall news. ‘

Other than a lot of changes with Facebook’s change from Fan to Like, the month was mostly uneventful for the automotive world on Facebook.