Citroen has integrated interactive ‘digital watermarking’ into its latest direct marketing initiative to connect customers with local dealers through their smartphones.

A brochure created to celebrate the launch of the brand’s DS5 model includes 576 individual watermarks within 192 different versions, with each linking back to a different showroom.

The watermarks are hidden within the images of the cars, so have no affect on the design or layout of each page.

To access the digital content, customers must download an app created by Digital Space to scan the watermark. They are the directed to nine images and three videos of each of the cars in the DS range.

Since each mailer is specific to a particular dealer, the app also displays contact information and a call to action that allows the user to request a call back or book a test drive.

Citroen dealer marketing manager Claire Cardosi said this is the first time the car company has used interactive marketing to promote its local dealers, though a previous national campaign in The Daily Telegraph used the same watermarking technology.

It’s very much a trial for us to see how people interact with the technology. We will be tracking how customers use the app and how many leads we get from it.”

She said that the direct mailer was an ideal testing ground for the technology as consumers tend to spend a while browsing brochures, as opposed to the fleeting glance it would get in a TV or print ad.

The opportunity for this technology going forward is limitless. We can theoretically use it anywhere and mobile marketing is something we are looking to use going forward.”

Print brochures are still a key marketing tool for car manufacturers, and it makes sense to take advantage of the increased use of smartphones by integrating digital content.

Producing 200,000 copies of the brochure with so many different watermarks must be costly and time consuming, but if it helps to generate more leads for local dealers then it will pay for itself quickly.

However as with all bespoke scanner apps – such as this example by Taco Bell – the main obstacle will be convincing customers to download it in the first place.