Automotive marketers push the boundaries of media & production by tapping into technology

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Automotive Brands have been part of marketing innovation folklore for as long as I can remember. Be it the Saturn story, the Beatle lemon, the Mini movement, many car Brands have captured our imagination over the years. However, as digital and social marketing have taken over, most auto Brands didn’t immediately take a leadership role (with the exception of a few such as Ford in Social). Most were simply caught up in executing tried-and-true marketing playbooks that they fell behind. Due to extremely tight pockets brought on by challenged economies, auto Brands have taken to technology media like never before. In all honesty, given that technology plays such a foundational role in their current products, focusing on technology in advertising makes sense.

The following are examples of areas where car manufacturers have been pushing marketing communications innovation: stunts, social, and outdoor. 
The first is a brilliant stunt from Volvo Trucks. Stunts have been a favorite of auto Brands because they are able to show their products “doing their thing” in unexpected but energy-charged environments or situations (see here). Many seem to have been really good students of the DCShoes playbook via their Gymkana series (see here). Volvo has taken this to a new level, applying Hollywood style production grandeur to the “humble stunt”. Combining testimonial and fear-factor, they know how to really surprise and entertain. The result is a few million views. Not bad.

The second program is a social media contest from Lexus. Leveraging their Facebook community, they launched a promotion where a select few fans would be given the chance to drive in the world’s biggest video game… created by them! Using projection-mapping activated by a tablet, consumers created a race track while in the actual car driving the course. The video says it all. In short, Lexus has developed a circular social program where the contest was initiated on social to drive chatter, used social fans as heroes in the story and experience, then created an experience so visually rich that it would ensure really engaging content on social. Very cool.

The final program is from Mini who used Outdoor media in a highly interactive fashion to fuel the evangelism of its drivers. They used mobile to send personalized messages to Mini drivers as they passed by billboards, luring them into a “day event” called #mininotnormal. It made the passive outdoor medium incredibly intimate and active. While Mini is no stranger to innovation in outdoor, this program injected a good dose of technology that I hadn’t seen from them beforehand. Have a look.

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