Friday, September 24, 2010

The Kitten Meme's Influence on Automotive Marketing

The Dodge Caravan "Kittens" commercial is strange. What else can you say about it? It's an odd jump to the concluding line of copy: "It has everything. So you can do anything."

After watching the Dodge ad I had to wonder if they were inspired by another recent, fairly viral kitten ad. A year ago Toyota Australia did a commercial with their Ninja Kittens that is far more entertaining with a better soundtrack, energy and storyline.

All of this makes me wonder if kitten memes, laser cats, and general fascination lately with being a 'cat person' is showing it's impact on automotive advertising. Should we expect more? Will it always be human- kittens or will this develop into something more emotional and gentle like Ikea's brilliant ad that recently featured cats getting comfortable in a store after closing? (ps - don't forget to checkout the Ikea behind the scenes video.)


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand: August 2010

It was bound to happen and September was finally that month where I didn’t have an opportunity to get the monthly Facebook Fans report up on the blog in the first couple days after capturing the numbers. Fortunately, I did record all the fan counts on September 3, but with the Labor Day weekend and a week of social media fun on the new job (more here at TechCrunch.) I didn’t get a chance until now to finally analyze this month’s data.

First, let’s talk about the brand I used to do digital strategy for: Lincoln. Lincoln’s growth in August definitely received a major jolt as it increased fans from 4,533 to 13,161 leading to a 190% increase. Most of this can be attributed to a contest Lincoln was running in July and August where the brand showcased a chance to be the first to test-drive the all new Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. Lincoln created a special tab for the MKZ and also accompanied the promotion with some email marketing and advertising on Facebook. Of course, the jump is significant, because Lincoln’s fan base is a small number so adding almost 9,000 fans will cause a big boost percentage wise.

Another brand with a rather small fan count, but also a generous gain in fans was Mitsubishi. They saw a 44% gain in fans as they added nearly 13,000 fans in the month. They had several sweepstakes where fans could win a Flip SlideHD Camcorder, $500 gas card, Nikon Digital SLR camera, and ultimately a trip to Japan. Giveaways are certainly an effective way to gain “Likes” as we see in several reports about why people “Like” a brand on Facebook with the number one reason being discounts, support for company number two, and number 3 to get a freebie (full study from ExactTarget.)

Finally, in the giveaway to get Fans Facebook strategy, Mini also participated with their Win a Countryman contest. They saw a strong 36% increase in fans. Product launches naturally tend to increase fan counts beyond the normal 3-6% organic growth, but by adding a giveaway Mini boosted their growth significantly.

Toyota continues to do a lot of marketing on Facebook. They continued throughout August with ads throughout the Facebook site where they mostly promoted their Auto-Biography contest where participants submit videos about their personal experience with Toyota. Toyota is letting the message come from customers, a very smart message after a year I’m sure the company can’t wait to be over.

The other big news for August is BMW is rapidly gaining fans to cross the 2 million fan mark. They just crossed 1 million fans back in July. Yet, they continue to still spend time on the BMW USA fan page. Segmenting fans by creating unique fan pages has never been a good approach in my book, especially considering you can segment your messages to your fan base by using Facebook’s features to send a message only to people in a particular geographic location. That issue aside, they are dominating in the automotive Facebook fan grab.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Have We All "Like" Lost Our Minds

I was clicking through a Lexus ad for their new IS "Wield Precision" campaign when I noticed on the landing page at that I could "Like" the page. The hero image area of the page showcasing the car driving down a road had 167 'Likes' already. 'Like' of course is Facebook nomenclature for 'engaging' in an activity demonstrating one enjoys a piece of content. What started as a way to like someone's Facebook status update or like a photo posted has turned into 'Like' anything fever.

I just wonder what's the real point? Have we lost our minds as marketers thinking if someone clicks a 'Like' button that there is somehow more value to that view than just a page visit? Or have we as consumers lost our minds thinking someone cares we visited a web page and now we must show our satisfaction?

Even if someone does 'Like' the Lexus IS page it barely registers it on Facebook where the brand gets a small one line message that I did something. What I liked isn't even very clear (see image at right.) To clarify, I'm not picking on Lexus. I'm just using this latest example from the Lexus IS marketing team.

In the end, it really doesn't matter because Lexus did get a few more people to share an experience with only the cost of having a developer add a Facebook Like button.

Now please 'Like' this blog post... :)


Monday, September 6, 2010

Tweet Buick Social Media Trio for a Test Drive

Buick is interested in appealing to a more youthful customer and they are making strides with the Enclave, LaCrosse, and now the new Regal. As part of their outreach, Buick has hired three social media "Ambassadors" (their word) where one can tweet the @DriveBuickChi trio and "the test drive comes to you", provided one lives in Chicago (that's what "Chi" stands for in case you were wondering...)

It's an interesting concept and surely takes some of the hassle out of car shopping for those who are serious potential buyers. I wonder though how many tweets will be people testing how this concept works with no intent of really buying.

They are tweeting pictures of test drivers like @BrianGainor (Brian Gainor) @LauraGainor (Laura Gainor) who tried out the LaCrosse last week. Laura is a social media strategist for a marketing+pr agency and blogged about her experience.

Buick is spreading the word by posting a photo gallery on its Facebook page. I'm not sure if other efforts are happening to get the idea some reach. They have also created a Facebook event from August 1 to October 31 for those who want to attend a drive. To further increase interest, test drivers can win VIP tickets to an event if they are lucky to find some tickets under the test drive car's seat.

I do like the idea of Tweet to test drive. It's an interesting idea and one that could work very well for a dealership. One wonders why this concept wasn't extended to a dealer instead of going with three social media experts. I get the obvious reason, but why not train a dealer and test-pilot how effective this can be and then broaden its reach to other markets.


DC Shoes Gymkhana has Its Matrix Revolutions Sequel

I have enjoyed the Gymkhana series from DC Shoes featuring its co-owner Ken Block. In fact, in my best of 2009 Gymkhana 2 made the list. Unfortunately, Gymkhana 3 - the first to feature the new Ford Fiesta - is a sad sequel. There are no amazing moments, the car is a sad prop, the Ford logo gets its moment across a couple pairs of silicone mounds and there's enough black lighting to satisfy any college stoner's decorating needs.

Now to be fair this is Part I: The Music Video Infomercial alluding to the hope something great may come in a future part of Gymkhana 3, but starting out this way is no way to build interest for future episodes.

Gymkhana 1 was amazing. Gymkhana 2 kept it interesting and had a few great moments. This however is just sad. This is Gymkhana's Matrix Revolutions.

Nothing is really wrong with the rap by Cool Kids and the video is well shot, but it lacks any of the appeal or the fascination from the other Gymkhana videos and the Fiesta doing the electric slide in a few frames doesn't help.

One YouTube reviewer sums it quite well, "less rapping, more driving."

Perhaps all of this is to make the shoes and clothing more the star than the car, since this is an ad for DC not Ford and, if that is the case, the production team has done its job. They've turned the cool automotive lust of Gymkhana into a clothing commercial.