Monday, June 8, 2015

Three Great Auto Marketing Campaigns

The automotive industry has done some wild things over the years in the name of generating buzz. Need examples? Ford put a Mustang on top of the Empire State Building (twice), Smart used extra-large bike locks to secure some of its diminutive-but-versatile vehicles to lamp posts in Canada, and BMW created a not-so-diminutive art piece called "An Expression of Joy" with a drifting Z4 and lots and lots of paint.

At Callbright, we're big fans of quality automotive marketing, especially when those big, expensive stunts actually do their job and generate a healthy return on investment. Here are some of our favorite auto campaigns from recent years that generated both buzz and ROI.

Chevrolet — Firsts


Chevrolet Sonic skydive
Image courtesy Think With Google
How do you market to millennials? Chevrolet's answer in 2011 was to engage them digitally. They did this by making YouTube videos showing the 2012 sub-compact car, Sonic, doing crazy stunts. Chevrolet took the Sonic on its first skydive, first bungee jump, first kick-flip (with Rob Dyrdek at the wheel) and first music video (co-starring OK Go). The campaign started on YouTube and then culminated with a TV spot during Super Bowl XLVI.

Chevy wasn't lacking creativity on this campaign. The car's bungee jump was streamed live online and the car wasn't "launched" until the website received enough clicks to push the Sonic over the ledge. The campaign was so popular for the way it engaged the audience that it earned a coveted Effie Award in 2013.

Honda — Cog


Honda Cog commercial
Image courtesy YouTube
This one still amazes us more than 10 years later. The "Cog" commercial was part of a larger U.K. Honda campaign that included TV spots called "Sense" and "Everyday." It originally aired during a British broadcast of a Formula 1 race in 2003 and featured an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine built with parts from the new generation of Honda Accord.

Honda, which had struggled in the U.K. over the previous five years, struck gold with the "Cog" commercial. It became one of the earliest viral videos as it reached a global audience via the Internet. The commercial was called the "water-cooler ad conversation of the year" by a British journalist, and Honda's website traffic jumped 400 percent over the course of the campaign.

Mini — Let's Motor


Image courtesy AdverToLog
Rebooting a brand that had been dormant in America for almost 35 years was a daunting task for Mini when it brought its new Cooper and Cooper S hatchbacks to the U.S. in 2002. The market was dominated by SUVs and pickups, and Mini had a relatively modest marketing budget to work with. Mini's solution was to target enthusiasts with a counterculture message that encouraged adventure and derided the status quo of American car buying.

Thanks to the "Let's Motor" campaign, Mini's return to the U.S. was a roaring success. The company sold 5,000 more cars than the original 20,000-unit limit.  Brand awareness increased to 80 percent, with about 40 percent converting to consideration. The modest budget meant Mini spent just $567,000 per percentage point of awareness in its first year while other brand's spent an average of nearly $6 million for the same gains.

For more marketing inspiration, check out some of these awesome dealership mascots!