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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chevy Volt Ad Premiers on World Series Tonight



"We're wanderers. Wayfarers. Even nomads. So doesn't it just make sense that we build an electric car that goes far... really far."

Chevrolet is getting ready for the Volt to hit the American road as we near the final months of 2010. This is the first consumer video promoting the production car.

Overall, I personally like it. It's not groundbreaking and maybe it should be, but I think Chevy is trying to normalize electric vehicles and make the concept more friendly, not just for Greens, but for everyone.

There are no MPG claims just some very small type about "25-50 miles of electric driving in moderate conditions." Also, the information about the car being electric isn't shared until the very end of the ad.

Chevy is also introducing a new tag line for the brand: "Chevy Runs Deep". Not sure where this is going but it's a bit confusing at the end of the Volt ad, since the ad is talking about the car running more miles than any other electric car. How that is "deep", or what "deep" even means from a brand positioning statement, is still lost on me. Will be interesting to see how Chevy, which I thought was called Chevrolet, evolves "deep" in coming marketing uses.
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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Will the “First Online Test Drive” Inspire At Least One Real Test Drive?



Mitsubishi thinks you will be interested in driving their new Outlander Sport using your keyboard. To do this, they have rigged a SUV so that one can control it online.

I kept seeing the ads on TV and received some email from Mitsubishi (I signed up for updates months back), but didn’t realize until I went to the Outlander Sport micro-site that the test-drive is being held November 1-10. To participate in the “Live Drive”, there is a sign-up form that has to be sent before November 1 and those who register will receive an access code.


The drive looks like it will be similar to a consumer ride and drive event where several orange cones will be setup in a large, empty parking lot. The new Outlander Sport will then be controlled by a remote control.

“Live Drive”, “Virtual Test Drive”, “Online Test Drive” whatever they are called it is not something new. Every automaker I’m sure has had a brainstorming session around how can they get consumers to experience a test drive using a computer. If you can’t get ‘butts in seats’ you might have some luck getting people interested in a vehicle while they virtually drive with butts is in desk seats.

Toyota did their version of a Virtual Test Drive with their Yaris launch site a couple years ago. Yaris let users control four different camera angles and added some hot spots to get more information while the car drove through one of five user selected cities.

The Yaris drive highlights key local landmarks for those wanting to learn more about the cities the car drives through. Everything is video based so it is far more passive than what Mitsubishi is attempting to do with the Outlander Sport. The interactivity of changing camera angles or clicking hot spots doesn’t feel like a test drive; it feels more like switching camera views on a video game, not playing the video game.

I have a feeling the Outlander Sport “Live Drive” will be more like playing the game than controlling viewing perspectives. It’s an interesting novelty experiment. Will it move much product? Who knows? If it is executed well then it may catch some buzz and thanks to a somewhat healthy TV ad buy from a minor automotive brand it should get a decent initial audience.

I’m looking forward to my online test drive and will send an update to let you know what I think about the execution and since my family is in the market for a new SUV, who knows, maybe I might go from office seat to car seat as Mitsubishi hopes.

More details from USAToday.


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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sponsorship Marketing: Ford's Activation at BlogWorld



I’m at BlogWorld this week. As an avid blogger and someone who has experienced the amazing impact blogging has had on my own professional career and personal relationships, I love what blogging means to social media and in an age where everyone talking social media usually talks Facebook and Twitter we are all reminded, here at BlogWorld, that blogging is a major, major part of social media.

But this is an automotive marketing blog and like any good blogger I better know my audience and you didn’t come here to hear me wax poetically about social media; instead, I’m going to talk about a brand I have an affinity for – Ford.

As a Gold Sponsor, Ford is everywhere. They are one of three Gold Sponsors with the other two being Mandalay Bay and Kodak. Of course Scott Monty (@scottmonty) is here and so are some people from the Ford social media team including Brian McClary (@brianmcclary). The brand is present with large Ford logos throughout the building on several posters that communicate the way to rooms and featured behind speaker panels. The program everyone carries also has a healthy Ford logo on the cover.

Where it gets interesting is with Ford’s experience approach to social media. One of the things Ford does very well is create experiences with their products in a way that gets people talking – and blogging – about their immediate reactions with the brand. To do that at BlogWorld, Ford is hosting test drives with a full range of vehicles. Yes! I finally get to drive the new Mustang GT 5.0.

BlogWorld brings together an audience that loves to publish, by definition everyone here is a self-publisher, and here Ford is tapping into that natural instinct with conference attendees and they don’t need to do it with win a free trip or here is $5,000 for the best uploaded YouTube video; instead, the community responds by participating and then sharing their experience. This is true User Generated Content.

Ford is using a couple tools to promote their test-drives. The hashtag #FordBWE (BWE – stands for Blog World Expo and is being used by the conference as #bwe10.)

The test drives are being done via registration using the social media tool PlanCast and Tungle.Me. Both are simple applications that use existing social media log-ins (Facebook and Twitter) where people can “Count Me In” or sign-up for a specific date and time appointment.

I’ll be there tomorrow at the driving event and hope to share how Ford setup the event Mandalay Bay Casino. So, expect some impressions from me about the new Mustang GT 5.0 if you follow me on Twitter (@cbaccus.)

UPDATE:
Unfortunately I attempted to drive a Mustang GT 5.0 but failed. When I went down for my allotted time someone took another half hour in the car and I was tired of waiting so I decided to come back the next morning, but didn't get a chance then as the morning ended up being fairly busy.

Ford did one other thing I noticed Saturday morning. They decided to use a Promoted Tweet in the #bwe10 Twitter search thread. What this does is anyone following the hashtag #bwe10 (BlogWorld 2010, in case you didn't get the meaning) will see the Promoted Tweet on the top of all Twitter searches for that hashtag. I personally liked this approach since conference attendees are the ones most likely following the hashtag and it gave Ford an easy way to remind event goers that they were holding test drives at BlogWorld.

Full disclosure: I used to work for Ford at their Agency of Record Team Detroit doing Digital Marketing Strategy, but left there three months ago. I was not involved with this event or any of its planning before I left.


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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Honda Attempts to Add Some Swagger to Their Wagon



If the Toyota Sienna is the "Swagger Wagon", does this latest commercial for the Honda Odyssey make the Honda minivan the "Hair Band Wagon"? And what appeal would a hair band wagon have besides being capable of hauling around a couple kids and a pair of Marshall amplifiers?

Sorry Honda but this one tries to come across as absurd fun, similar to the Toyota Sienna campaign but it unfortunately misses the mark. It just falls flat. It comes across as if the ideation team looked at what their main competitor was doing and decided hey we really need some music in our ad and should make the minivan cool again. Answer: Black cat, Marshall amps, and fireworks. Hmmmm.... maybe the ad needs more spandex and a drum solo?


How it's done.



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Monday, October 11, 2010

Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand: September 2010



Let’s get the big news out of the way. BMW surpassed the 2 Million fan number September 28th. On July 5th they hit 1 Million fans, so in a mere 3 months they gained over 1.1 Million fans. BMW has been on a fan rampage and finished the month promoting their secret reveal (I’m guessing it’s the new BMW 6-series.)

Hyundai saw a massive increase in fans as they nearly doubled their fans in September from 41,653 to 82,773 fans. This was done in part by some reachblock ad units I did see Hyundai run on the Facebook site. Others doing reachblock ads where Cadillac and Toyota continued to promote their safety and user story ads throughout the month of September.


Honda worked on promoting their Honda CR-Z Hybrid, but the ad units drove consumers to the CR-Z vehicle page. Honda saw a typical 10% gain on the brand page. Unfortunately, I think they missed an opportunity to drive more fan traffic to their primary brand page. It’s interesting to note that at the end of September Honda’s luxury family member Acura decided to abandon their vehicle fan pages. It will be interesting to see if Honda makes a similar move with their product fan pages or if other brands will follow Acura’s lead here, especially as brands probably look to 2011 and 2012 as ways to increase social media efficiency as social destination effectiveness comes clear with years worth of supporting data.

MINI finished their major Facebook campaign where they gave away a MINI Countryman from their Facebook fan page. Fred Manuel Roldan Rivero from Lisbon, Portugal won the MINI Countryman and the brand shared the giveaway PR event with their fans. Overall it was a nice promotion for the Facebook fans but MINI didn’t really see any major bump in fans which I find interesting because this contest may have more to do with energizing its fans than say growing the fan base. I don’t have any of the ad units promoting the event, if there were any, but MINI only saw a mediocre 11% increase in fans in September and XXX% in August. It’s tough to judge the contest as I don’t know what MINI was trying to drive. I assume handraisers and contest entries but Facebook fan growth didn’t seem to be a goal or a goal that wasn’t met.

In another notable move, Scion experienced a 34% jump that probably was due to the launch of Scion in Canada. Previously, Scion was only available in the United States. Scion launched the brand in Canada last month and one can assume the launch helped some fan growth from those to our north.


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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Acura Shuts Down their Vehicle Facebook Fan Pages



I have never been a big fan of automakers starting vehicle fan pages. There are exceptions to my thinking, for example halo cars like the Mustang or Corvette or when one vehicle is more compelling than your brand alone - like the Subaru WRX.

My thinking is you are lucky to get a person to fan any of your fan pages, so why not drive people to your brand fan page where you can talk about the car/truck/suv they are interested in, but also market some of your other products and brand messages. It's a great opportunity to showcase your product portfolio.

Acura has decided this is the way to go. They started with a strategy of having the Acura brand fan page, but also have a tab called "Vehicle Lineup" where fans could click and go to each vehicle fan page. Now Acura fans click the vehicles in the tab and are taken to the Acura.com website vehicle page and isn't this all about driving consumers to your optimized shopping site? Okay, it's not all about that, but you should be working to get fans to your .com site.

The other reason to not have unique vehicle fan pages, especially for brands like Acura that are more defined by the brand than one vehicle, is the extra resources to manage the vehicle pages and also you start segmenting your fans so your advertising becomes a discussion around whether to drive Acura fans or vehicle page fans. Why not simplify?

On an interesting note, Acura did not get the fans moved from the vehicle pages to the brand page. I'm guessing a lot of brands will not change their strategy because they cannot simply transfer fans from one product to a brand page. This is the old issue with sunken costs and how some tend to hold on to bad investments simply because they spent a bunch of money already.

It will be interesting to see if other automakers (and other industries) will catch on and focus on building their brand, not individual product pages.



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