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With in-car radios quickly being replaced by Spotify, car manuals being PDF’d onto iPads and QR codes in magazines taking you straight to the mobile site for the manufacturer, it’s apparent that the digital transformation of the auto industry is taking place right now.
Ford, Chevrolet, Volkswagen, and Toyota are all selling amazingly globally, but one of them isn't performing as well in its digital marketing efforts.
In contrast, Smart, Suzuki, Fiat, and Daihatsu are floundering in terms of sales, but one is doing far better online than in the stores.
Below is a look at their digital ideas for selling more cars, and my views on how well they executed.
Product placement is not a new idea, nor has it always worked - but when New Girl and Ford collaborated... I’ve never laughed harder.
In the screenshots below you can see that appeared in a comedic scene; and it even parodied the brand itself with the character of Jess yelling “Further go further!” as a take on the brands slogan ‘Go Further’.
When watched online on-demand the video was interactive and allowed the viewer to be taken to Ford.com’s special site dedicated to the product featured - The Ford Fusion. Sales in the month after the New Girl episode aired (November, 2012) were up 6%, and considering the car itself costs £14,324/$21,900, this appears to be a decent return on investment.
To introduce side-assist warning features in Brazil, Volkswagen took advantage of YouTube’s progress bar by showing a man falling - and five seconds later the man in the clip does indeed take a fall.
The video was released only days after YouTube introduced the ability to see a screen-cap of a video at the time you’ve hovered over to on the progress bar.
Toyota has integrated Pinterest to a new level; and despite pandering to the fact Pinterest is a female orientated site, Toyota has managed to make the photos and albums they have actually worth looking at.
Between the good photography of shiny automobiles arriving at a motor show and the ‘taken on an iPhone’ style photos of Pinterest Toyota Drivers, the page as a whole is a fun, quick look at a car manufacturer that is using a social media site without just pinning its own adverts.
To promote the Silverado, Chevrolet decided to create ‘Ice Boxes’ in areas of interest such as fishing lakes. To promote said ‘Ice Boxes’ Chevrolet created Vines showing how they were created.
Chevrolet is not the only brand to use Vine, nor was it extremely rapid to the jump. Its creativity is not seen in any of the Vines and said videos could have easily been YouTube or Vimeo clips instead. Chevrolet may be selling well, but its campaigns online are far from its slogan of ‘Excellence For Everyone’.
Suzuki created, funded, and developed a show in associated with the ‘Lifetime Network’ in hopes of getting more female attention for the ‘Kizashi’ family car.
However, the talk show talked more about changing diapers and Kim Kardashian then the Kizashi itself. The show was available on-demand on Suzuki’s North American site after being shown on Lifetime. This clashed as the people visiting Suzuki’s US site did not need to learn about organic baby-food.
The show failed to gain viewers and Suzuki failed to get more attention in North America. In fact it has recently shut down automobile sales in the United States.
Fiat is a HUGE corporation with Dodge, Chrysler, Lancia, and Alfa Romeo hidden in the company wings borrowing parts and money to stay alive.
Fiat USA itself is not doing that great - with only 43,000 units sold out of the projected 100,000.
The social team for North America decided to create a ‘Fiat Song’ with the help of the not-so-talented Pitbull and the better-than-this Arianna. Streamed on Vevo and forcibly placed before other videos as an ad; I don’t see any Grammies in Fiat’s hands yet.
“Just make it girly. Don’t tell us you’re making it girly...” was the response from one of the staff at Econsultancy when I showed her the ‘Sirion Makeup Station’.
A car configurator aimed at the 25-30 year old, female, professional demographic - it replaces paint buckets with nail polish and the car itself is seen in shopping malls rather then showrooms.
Glitter rains down the screen and the pandering minds of Daihatsu frown as the entire brand is being phased out globally.
Due to a relatively ‘small’ (pun not intended) range of vehicles, Smart has never been a strong seller.
Its campaigns also haven’t been very digital-focused or modern with most of it being print based. However, its campaign on the Argentina Twitter account was extremely impressive, taking the idea of a printed flip-book and turning it into a ‘tweet-book’ with a collage of photos creating a Smart parking between two larger vehicles. Smart is clearly being smart online.
Comment below any other digital car campaigns you've seen, that have interested you.