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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Celebrity" Ride and Drives



Celebrity is back. Okay, it never really went away, but it seems there is a new spin on how to get celebrities interested in trying out a new car. Pair the celebrity with an interesting personality who can keep the conversation interesting and also find some time to highlight the features in the car.

For Lexus, the formula centered around the attractive comedian Whitney Cummings driving celebrities - from all walks of life - including a skateboarder, actress, and a social media author in the all-new CT 200h. The CT 200h is a new hybrid hatchback that arrives at dealerships in March 2011. There isn't much new with the CT 200h, but Whitney is a great host and makes most of the videos watchable. She definitely is the star more so than the car.

The CT 200h campaign is called the Darker Side of Green, but they extended the campaign by calling the drives Darkcasting. Why Darkcasting? It is described as "the first ever in-car after-dark talk show." I'm sure the claim of "first ever" will go unchallenged. Each drive takes place at night and the cast is Whitney as passenger and her "celebrity" driver.

You can see social media author Brian Solis in this video:



Chevrolet Casts "The Perez Hilton of the East Coast"

Chevrolet includes lifestyle and celebrity blogger Micah Jesse as a key person in their latest campaign Cruze-Arati.

Unfortunately, Micah mistakenly assumes he is doing the "first mobile talk show." Perhaps he can claim the first ever in-car daylight talk show. I'm fairly certain that claim is still available.

Micah does an in-car interview with "celebrity" Kelly Bensimon from the Real Housewives of New York City.



One odd difference is how Micah interviews Kelly on the side of the road. Did Chevy's lawyers not allow the interview to happen while the car is in drive?

Cruze-Arati is a bit more than just in-car interviews. In fact, most of it revolves around six topical experts talking on subjects like Technology, Music, Sports and Fashion. It's mainly about socially active people driving around in a Cruze and showcasing some "crazy" stories around each of the topics. There is even a Twitter account, @Cruzearati, to follow all the antics.


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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

After Losing Car of the Year, Nissan Promotes a Tweet



So you didn't win the big award especially after losing to your main rival. It isn't the best feeling. In this situation, Nissan LEAF lost to the Chevy Volt for North American Car of the Year at the North American International Auto Show but that didn't stop Nissan from promoting what they did win.

Today on Twitter there is a promoted tweet: "Nissan LEAF" that promotes their winning the Eco Car of the Year at NAIAS. There is nothing wrong with promoting this tweet and getting the word out. Nor is there anything wrong with the Eco Car of the Year award, I'm sure it's an honor.

I just wonder if it's a little sad after losing the big award to have to promote a tweet to get people to notice you did win something. After all of the press coverage of Chevy Volt winning Car of the Year on Monday, perhaps Nissan felt a bit left out and wanted to share they didn't walkaway empty handed.

Lastly, I would've never known they won if it wasn't for the promoted tweet so it definitely served its purpose.


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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Consumer Electronics Show, Different Kind of Auto Show



Unfortunately I missed this year’s North American International Auto Show, also known as NAIAS, after attending it every year since 1997. Fortunately, there was another “auto show” going on the week before in Las Vegas. Did I say auto show? Oh I meant International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) where they show off a lot of technology and some of it featured on four wheels. Ford and Audi both keynoted at the show. Nissan had a local LEAF drive and Automotive Rhythms hosted a Nissan LEAF “Electric Party” at The Palms. Nvidia brought the Tesla Model S for a quick show-and-tell. There was even an in-vehicle technology track for those who wanted to know more about the latest automotive technology.


I spent some time at the show watching Audi’s keynote. They came with their R8 E-Tron Spyder Concept and the Audi A7L.

Audi showcased their relationship with graphics chip maker Nvidia Corporation. “German engineering meets Silicon Valley,” Audi CEO Rupert Stadler shared with the crowd of a couple hundred people who watched him roll out onto stage in the revised E-Tron concept.

Nvidia founder and CEO Jensen Huang joined Stadler on stage where they shared the latest Navigation system and coming in-dash LCD instrument panel. The graphics definitely wowed the crowd and showcased how the merging of technology and automotive engineering can come together to really impress an audience who can respect what it takes to make such an impressive computer on wheels.

CES even had an automotive reveal at the show – The Ford Focus EV. My flight left right as Ford’s Alan Mulally took the stage to reveal the new electric Focus. Ford made a big splash at last year’s CES with the debut of their MyFord and MyLincoln Touch systems.

It may not be as comprehensive as an auto show, but CES is finding its own niche in the automotive world. Now next year if only I can find a way to get into the Automotive Rhythm’s party and better plan my travel to stay around to hear Mulally speak, I won’t feel so bad missing NAIAS again.


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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand: December 2010



Milestones are a time for celebration. BMW gave thanks to its fans when it crossed 1/2 million fans. Audi recently celebrated its reaching 2 million fans and Mercedes Benz also showed some appreciation when it hit 2 million fans. All of these prior celebrations involved a wall post and video, but none of the automotive companies have done anything truly creative to celebrate such a milestone until now.

Porsche passed the 1 million fan mark a couple weeks ago and as part of the celebration they are placing a special model Porsche in the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart. Fans can ask for their name to be on the displayed vehicle by signing up on their Facebook fan page tab called "1,000,000". It's a creative way to bring the milestone to life, much more interesting than some thrown together ad agency video.


Major milestones aside, GMC blew everyone away with the most significant monthly fan gain - a whopping 95%. Like most double-digit changes, GMC's rise is attributable to media spend driving fans to their Facebook page. GMC has a sponsorship with the NFL that has fans voting for the "Never Say Never Moment of the Week." There are weekly prizes, a trip to the Super Bowl and a chance to win a 2011 GMC Sierra Denali.

Hyundai ran some reachblocks in the beginning of December. Other companies that did some marketing in Facebook were Lexus, Chrysler, and Dodge (this is not a comprehensive list just some of the ads I personally saw.) Mercedes-Benz worked to promote their Tweet Race. The ad units sent people to the recently created Mercedes-Benz USA Facebook fan page.

Yes, Mercedes like BMW, Mini and Smart now has a "USA" fan page. As part of their way to create interest for the page they are doing the "World's First Twitter-Fueled Race" which looks basically like a road-trip with four teams driving from four different cities to the Super Bowl in Dallas. This sounds eerily similar to last year's Chevrolet SXSW road-trip scavenger hunt. (Look for a coming article on Mercedes' event around when it begins on February 2.)

A final insight in December comes from Mazda. I find it interesting how some brands promote sales events (Acura has one right now), or they keep a corporate logo, or others promote a new product as part of Facebook's profile image. Mazda is promoting their new Mazda5 but they also found a nice, clean way to promote their other social media brand destinations in the profile picture. The promotion of other channels and their dot.com site is effectively communicated.



Download the Excel file: Facebook Auto Fan File (December 2010)

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