Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chrysler Group's Mopar Takes a Page from Ford and GM

The social media road trip/rally/race/whatever is so common it’s becoming a bit cliché and in my former days listening to media companies and social agencies pitch ideas there was always some effort that involved putting celebs, comedians or everyday people into cars to share their experience across social media by giving them a car and some challenges to do.

The latest example of this model comes from Chrysler’s performance division Mopar: The event is called Moventure. Get it? They had a call for submissions for filling ten teams that would drive Chrysler division vehicles from Detroit to Golden, Colorado at the NHRA Mopar Mile High Nationals, a “full throttle drag racing series.” The team with the most points stand to win $5,000 in Mopar parts and accessories.

Each brand (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and Fiat) has two teams of two with challenges all along the way to the final destination, think something similar to Chevy’s SxSW Road Trip from 2010 and 2011. It’s kind of funny that my article on the Chevy event garnered a comment stating “*waits for Chrysler to emulate Ford’s Fiesta Movement, just like GM did? ;-p” Apparently the answer is July 2011, sort of.

This is coming out of the Mopar division, not the parent company, though looking how it’s being shared on twitter the Chrysler brand twitter accounts and Chrysler PR people are Retweeting content from the Mopar teams, similar to what happened with both GM and Ford events.

Fiesta Movement was very different from this model. It was 6 months with 100 cars given out that gave time for participants to build an audience. A more likely Ford use of this template was the Ford Fusion Relay Race that used similar teams on a short multi-day road trip.

The Mopar event participation is like others who have blazed this social trail. Most of the social conversation is from the teams with the brand (or agencies) supporting the conversation through Retweets and @ mentions on twitter. There is some video content too that’s being created but as you can tell (image at right) the views are pretty low even after 24 hours since posted.

I really wonder about if these events are worth all of the effort. I’m sure blog coverage is a big win for the organizers and for this Moventure contest. So far there has been zero coverage from the top two automotive blogs – AutoBlog and Jalopnik; however, there was coverage from Car & Driver, Torque News, and CNBC (they reprinted the press release verbatim.)

What is success and what is a good amount of social conversation and who it was from is rarely discussed because no one ever goes back and evaluates their effort against competitor efforts. This I know after actively following many over the years, it’s 90%+ people involved in the effort who discuss and socially share it (team members, brand, and agencies.) There is very little spillover effect unless you really invest big dollars engaging celebrities, philanthropy and market the hell out of it – think Mercedes Tweet Race – or you do something more involved like the 6-month Ford Fiesta Movement.

In full disclosure, I have some good friends that make up two of the teams on this road trip and I really do wish them well. From what I can tell they are doing what they can to generate interest and discussion about their involvement. It’s just that no one really cares, except those participating, when it comes down to it.

I’ve seen the output reports on efforts like this and everyone shows an impressive looking number of “mentions” and a summation of all the video views/comments/tweets, and then some screen-shots of blog coverage and well that’s it and off everyone goes to the next project. I expect Moventure is no different and that's not a criticism of the Mopar effort. It's more a result of how this model historically works.



Christopher Barger said...

Why is it that when anyone does something, we have to immediately label it a copy of something else? Humanity's been around long enough -- and marketing as a profession -- that there's not really that many "original" ideas around, only original twists on them. 

If we really wanted to go back into automotive history, both ChevySXSW and Fiesta Movement had precursors in automotive marketing even decades earlier. The success of those programs (disclosure: I developed and led the ChevySXSW 2010 program) wasn't in being so utterly unique that no one had ever done anything like it before; it was in successfully using new tools to generate community enthusiasm and participation in the program, and generating as much not just awareness but emotional investment in the product or brand behind them. 

Car companies sell cars. That's their product. To generate the most enthusiasm for said product, you need to get people IN the car. Which makes road rallies and contests a natural fit -- you get people in the vehicles and have them (hopefully) talk about the experience so enthusiastically and vividly that they make other people want to go get in the cars too. With the logic involved in criticizing Chrysler for following Chevy (or Chevy for following Fiesta), you have to extend the argument then to vehicle launches: oh, look at that, Ford and Audi just invited a bunch of journalists and bloggers to the launch of their new vehicles. How trite and cliche; don't they know Chrysler and VW and Buick did that first?  (I have no idea which manufacturer really was the first to do a media launch; I don't care, because the point I'm making is far more material to this conversation than the actual history.)

The success or failure of Chrysler's road trip -- or any maker's social road trip -- rests on how creatively they've developed the contest, what kind of twists they can introduce, and most of all how effectively they engage the communities they're trying to reach. If they're creative and community focused and find a way to be just a little different than Chevy and Ford, it'll be a good program. If they paint by numbers or don't effectively involve the online community, it won't. Either way, it's not the road trip idea itself that will be the success or failure -- it's the execution.

Thanks for the post, Chris - and the short trip this afternoon down memory lane.  :-)

Christopher Baccus said...


Hey Chris - or is
this the “mad as hell” @FakeChrisBarger ;) ,

I didn't say it is a copy of the past efforts, I specifically used the phrase
"takes a page" or the word “similar”, since that's what it is. You're
right that there have been precursors before the typical social media campaigns,
but the efforts using Facebook/Twitter/YouTube are newer plays which is why the
Fiesta Movement to some extent the Chevy SxSW executions show up in many


You are right that
the creativity and execution of that creativity is what creates differences;
though, I'd argue budget is also a major factor of differentiation and success.

To your point that this is all about getting "butts in seats", to
borrow a phrase I heard whenever talking to dealers groups at Ford, GM or
Chrysler in my past, you're right that road trips are about creating real life
in car experiences with the products.  I'm sure these efforts will
continue to since in car experience whether blogger ride/drive, road trip
contests, or media outreach is an important aspect of creating product
knowledge. I'm not criticizing that. I expect it and it will continue to happen
and that’s perfectly okay.

What I do see, however, is that a lot of these road trips have very little
social conversation outside of the teams and companies who created the
marketing event and this seems like a weakness in this approach. So if I was a
bit FakeChrisBarger-ish it was because of seeing this weakness played out quite
a few times over the years.


Thanks for the
comment and joining me down memory lane.  

Christopher Barger said...

Meh. FakeChrisBarger is a hack. ;-) 

Sorry if I seemed a little grouchy in my defense; I just hate to see Chrysler's efforts knocked; we've all said for years that it would be great to see the other of Detroit's Three with a really active program, so I'm glad they're bringing it.

Your point is well taken about the conversation being limited, and I think we might even (shhhh!) agree on it. 

Thanks as always for making me think, Chris. Hope things are going well for you in your non-automotive gig.

Adam Moore said...

Like you, I personally know people in the race/rally/thing/ whatever… I still have trouble paying attention… It’s cool and a good idea, don’t get me wrong, I just never can pay attention to these social media driven advertising campaigns like this.