Thursday, March 31, 2011

Buick Goes for an Emotional Brand Campaign for NCAA

Buick is sponsoring the NCAA and as part of that effort they launched a new series of inspirational videos featuring several athletes who have overcome adversity. The campaign is called the Human Highlight Reel and as part of the launch Buick bought the homepage ad unit on YouTube last Monday.

This is all part of Buick's transformation or is it reclamation as the brand moves upmarket as a premium brand. This is the segment brands like Lincoln, Acura, Infiniti and to some extent Cadillac has played in for the past couple decades. Some people also call them segment affordable luxury. It's that awkward place between general consumer and luxury consumer vehicles, essentially the brands that cannot directly compete with the likes of Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Lexus; although, Lexus is a primary target of all these brands. Lexus breaks convention as they have beaten the Germans in some vehicle segments.

Buick wants to own the Premium space and as Cadillac continues to evolve and yes become a direct competitor with German luxury brands, now is the time for General Motors to show keeping the Buick brand, after closing several others, was a good decision. Fortunately, the products are getting better but the brand itself still has a major way to go as it assumes a more lofty aspirational brand identity.

The Human Highlight Reel campaign is a fairly typical attempt at facilitating the brand change. I'm sure the consumer research came back showing that Buick considers or the aspirational customers Buick wants to attract are free thinking (think brand agnostic), self motivated people who don't want to follow the herd. As a way to attract these consumers, the brand is trying to appeal to that person through inspirational content that shows the spirit the brand wants to embody or at least thinks its desired customers embody.

I'll admit it is personally difficult for me to see Buick as anything other than my mom's car. She had a nice, yellowish 1976 Buick Skylark coupe. It was mom's car from 1976 until the late 1980s when she finally sold it. Amazingly, it looked just as good the day she let go of it as when she bought it off the car lot. I definitely get my cleanliness when it comes to cars from my mom (my dad's Nissan Sentra had several weeks old McDonalds bags and various trash all over the floor. No wonder they got divorced.)

Fortunately, others may be more open to the Buick brand than I am and fortunately too they are making some solid products to back up the marketing change, because it doesn't matter how bad you want to attract new customers - you have to have the right products to meet the desired change.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

One Way to Get Your Dealers Involved

I’m guilty like most automotive bloggers of covering the larger brands more than some of the small players in the market. One brand that doesn’t get a lot of play is Mitsubishi. Well I wanted to find out what a Mitsubishi was doing with their efforts in social media and to my surprise I came across an unique way for the brand’s Facebook page to include their dealers.

Right now Mitsubishi is asking its fans to vote for the best dealer walkaround video. A walkaround video is where a dealer employee shows the features of a vehicle. The Facebook fans were asked to select from several dealer videos finalizing on three videos that are currently competing for a $2,500 prize to be awarded to the winning dealership.

Some of the videos are typical walkaround experiences where the dealer representative simply details every single feature, one with background Minnesota polka music. There definitely is a format to what the dealers were supposed to do here as all the videos cover every feature inside and out and run about 4 minutes plus in length.

Other videos are more entertaining with a bit more style, but still with substance. “Check out my curves and check out my lines,” sings one Omaha dealer who realizes there has to be some personality to keep people’s interest. Unfortunately like the more professional examples, none of the videos are that compelling and sitting through three 4 minute videos with basically the same exact content is a lot to ask, even from your fans.

I do like the idea of getting dealers involved in a real way with the greater Mitsubishi Facebook fan base and it incorporates fans thoughts through voting which video is best. Unfortunately, the $2,500 prize money that is offered is offered to the winning dealer and not a supporting local charity which would’ve had a more compelling appeal to a national audience.

Regardless, Mitsubishi is getting inventive with how to engage fans and finding ways to bring their dealers into the conversation. Sure this example isn’t going to turn into viral gold (total video views on the 3 final videos is at: 1,839 views), but it’s one way to extend goodwill between the OEM’s efforts in social and letting the dealer network reap some publicity too.