Showing posts with label Cube. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cube. Show all posts

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kia Microsite and Tour Reaches for Gen-Y

“We got together with a group of really cool people to celebrate Music, Film, Design, Entrepreneur Spirit and Gaming. We call them The Soul Collective”
From this continues Kia’s marketing outreach to teen and twenty-something consumers. The Kia Soul Collective was a ten-city tour promoting the Kia Soul as it showed up at concert events where show goers could get more information about the car and if they arrived between 12pm-8pm could test-drive a car. The effort was run by Cornerstone, a full-service lifestyle marketing company.

The site is divided into a various artistic interests: Music, Film, Design, Entrepreneur. All of the representatives for each section are Gen-Y up-and-comers with some established credibility. They all appeal to the creative nature of the target consumer and attempt to bring some coolness to the Kia Soul product. “Each member of the collective was tasked with demonstrating ‘how they roll’ through creating original films, art, music and more,” states the Press Release announcing the series of free concert events and the Kia Soul Collective site.

The Kia Soul is in a battle of the boxes as it launched the Soul at the same time Nissan launched their aptly named Cube and Scion had recently redesigned their xB. Kia picked up some immediate buzz with their funky hamster TV ad, which was one of the more memorable commercials of 2009. They also received some decent blogger coverage from non-automotive writers.

The Kia Soul Collective effort nixed the hamsters for turntables and nightclubs. The nice thing is there is still a connection across all of the efforts – the slogan “a new way to roll.” Roll can apply in a variety of ways and throughout the campaign has brought together rolling wheels and roll as in attitude. Connecting with artists is a natural integration in showcasing interesting people who have chosen a path that is definitely relevant to the target consumers.

There is a Flickr account setup for the event. I browsed several of the photo galleries and couldn’t find one photo with over 20 views. This isn’t uncommon from what I’ve experienced looking at all kinds of event marketing efforts brought online to Flickr. It doesn’t seem to matter what brand or product, but few people ever view these photos and probably for good reason. They only matter if you attended the event. Watching people you don’t know sign in at tables, drive around in a car, and go to a concert you didn’t attend just isn’t that compelling. It’s probably not even worth the effort to put up these galleries for any brand. Unless you have some compelling reason to do so, like they’re the first photos of the car or a celebrity is involved; otherwise, it’s not worth doing.

What is worth doing that is in the Kia Soul Collective site is the “Click Here for Your Event Photo” section where if you did attend an event you can retrieve it at the site and hopefully learn some more about the Soul’s marketing effort.

One disconnect is that there is virtually zero product information on the site. Obviously, adding product information to a hip, creative site promoting concert events could turnoff the audience Kia wishes to reach; however, providing a simple call to action to learn more about the Soul, say in the right side’s Keep Informed section would’ve been an easy way to promote the car a bit more. There is a Soul logo that is clickable to the Kia site, but clickable logos are weak Calls to Action, something stronger would’ve probably helped with what I’m guessing is a very low click-through rate to product pages.

The other question that begs asking is should this effort exist as an unique site, separate from the Kia Soul Launch experience. The Kia Soul launch site is pretty odd in its own expression and the Soul Collective effort probably could’ve lived in the existing site; instead of creating a whole other web site for people to find.

In an article from iMediaConnection called “3 Reasons to Ditch Your Microsites” author Sean X Cummings states, “Microsites are orphans. The URLs are orphans. You have to keep feeding them, housing them and clothing them, even though no one really wants them anymore.”

Looking at all the effort put into getting people to the Kia Soul Collective microsite, I wonder if Cummings is right. There is no point now that the tour is over and the content is old. No one has a reason to go here, yet Kia still feeds the site by linking to it from their shopping site at Why? Why have potential shoppers go to the Collective URL where you may deter their interest in your product and forget they were even interested in a Kia Soul? Internet users are fickle and you are just a click away to the next attention getter.

That’s why it’s often a better move to integrate your marketing efforts into minimal destinations like the shopping site and a launch experience, and even that you may want to combine into one single destination. I’m personally a fan of having a site for the launch efforts that are not convoluted by shopping links. Let your main site be the destination for serious buyers or product researchers. Let the launch site familiarize visitors with the campaign and key messages you want the product to communicate, not everyone is ready to start Build & Pricing and trying to find a dealership.

Anyway, the Soul Collective is another effort to combine creativity, youth and event marketing. There is nothing revolutionary here, but for what it is it subscribes to most of the fundamental elements company’s have when approaching these efforts: microsite, Flickr and a Twitter account. Being more integrated to the online efforts already in place with the Kia launch site would have alleviated the need to maintain a distinct effort, plus integration with the launch experience would’ve brought more of the digital effort into a more impactful singular effort. It still is a decent effort to reach that coveted Generation-Y demographic so many marketers wish to appeal too.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

An Automotive Strategist's Look at Twitter

I uploaded a presentation on I developed on how I came to find Twitter a useful medium for an automotive enthusiast or marketer. Basically, the deck looks at how I approached Twitter and found a way to make it work for me. I also reviewed a couple of automotive experiments on Twitter and how they are giving auto lovers a place to congregate and engage with brands, publications, and other enthusiasts.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mission Impossible: Nissan Seeks Cool Creative Canadians

There are plenty of cool, creative people in Canada, but will they find out about Nissan’s Hypercube campaign?

Since it’s not easy selling cars these days, why not give away some excess inventory? But in the case of the Nissan Cube, I doubt Nissan will have much of a problem moving these quirky, stylish boxes on wheels and their latest campaign Hypercube is trying its best to bring several new buyers to the brand.

Nissan Canada is giving away 50 2009 Nissan Cubes to creative people. The top 500 have already been chosen and now the public is voting for their top 50 to receive a Cube.

The 500 are currently showing Canada how cool, fun, unique, different, creative, and interesting a person they are. There are a lot of musicians on the site, including a 2008 Scribble Jam Beatbox Champion. He has some very interesting beats showing his love of the Cube, but has some tough competition for the top spot.

Seems that if you want to win a popularity contest, it’s not about how creative you are; it’s more about how great you look in a bra. Yeah, that’s right the top spot goes to an attractive singer, Amelie Paul from Montreal. The good news is the winners are chosen, not by their ability to look great in lingerie; rather, “it’s a combination of votes from your peers and a panel of esteemed judges who make the final decision as to the 50 of you who walk away with a brand new cube.”

You can stay engaged with the Hypercubers by subscribing to their YouTube channel, Twitter account or Facebook. This is starting to become the norm with automotive brands who use everyday people to generate buzz for their product (see the Fiesta Movement for an example from Ford.)

The website is promoting the buzz being generated by having a live Twitter feed on their homepage, whenever “hypercube” is Tweeted. I’m also seeing a lot of the Hypercube contestants regularly talking about the campaign on Twitter, so it is getting out to their social network and probably creating some nice buzz for Nissan through their friend’s participation in the contest.

Giving away 50 cars certainly gets people’s interest, whether the losers turn into buyers is a whole other thing. Regardless, it looks like a well-executed contest and is certainly building awareness with the Cube’s aspirational target -- young creative types.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Is Twitter Right for Automotive Marketing?

I have been following Twitter for a short while, about three months (you’re welcome to follow me @cbaccus.) So, please understand that I am not a Twitter evangelist. I’m also not anti-Twitter. I simply want to learn what is effective and see what brands (particularly automotive brands) are doing on this channel.

Varying Efforts: Ford, Volvo and Nissan

So far, there are a couple of efforts that have caught my attention. One is the work of Scott Monty, the social media person from Ford’s PR team, to see what he is doing to promote Ford’s brands on Twitter. The other efforts come from product launch “trials”. Volvo recently started a XC60 Twitter account and so has Nissan with their Nissan Cube launch. They are two efforts that are using Twitter to try to gain an audience.

First let’s look at Scott’s endeavors at Ford.

For disclosure purposes, Scott is a client of mine in a round about way. I don’t work directly with him but I work for the agency of record on the Ford marketing account and have met Scott, but I don’t know him well nor have I worked on any direct projects with him. I just have simply observed by following his blog and Twitters.

This week Scott is getting trashed by Jalopnik, a very popular automotive blog. The dig was mainly one about the power of Twitter as a way to sell cars along with some personal attacks focused around Scott’s strong ability to self promote. I’ll focus on the selling cars part of the criticism levied by Ray Wert of Jalopnik who questions if Monty’s efforts really impact automotive sales.

From listening to Scott, he has established some strong relationships on Twitter and claims to have had some impact on changing Ford’s brand perception through his communications with those who have forgotten about Ford or have a negative perception of Ford from prior experience. The most public example is Scott’s traction with technology blogger Scobleizer.

Scott is a PR guy at Ford. So, he is primarily focused on improving Ford’s image by influencing media coverage. Improving the brand’s image should eventually result in increased sales and, yes, it may take years to really have any significant impact on sales. But I wouldn’t call what Scott is doing marketing. He is doing public relations.

The other efforts by Volvo and Nissan are truly marketing efforts. Volvo’s communications on Twitter 90% of the time promote drive events where the new vehicle is being toured around the States and the marketing team is using Twitter to promote event location and timing. If you are not interested in these events or are too much of a Twitter fanatic that you can’t just look up the event location on Volvo’s XC60 blog than the Twitter follow loses all value. The other 10% of posts comment on questions people ask the account administrator.

Nissan’s effort was to create a personality for the vehicle. They Tweeted (is that what it’s called?) witty phrases that imitated the car’s personality. It was rather urbane stuff, but for the Nissan Cube fanatics I’m sure it was kind of fun for them and probably produced a grin or two every time a new Tweet came across. Plus the Tweets kept the vehicle in the consumer’s mindset. The problem is very few people followed it with barely a 100 followers, and considerably less once you exclude the agency and Nissan employees who followed it.

The Importance of Twitter

The above examples are not sweeping endorsements of Twitter for automotive marketing, but don’t give up just yet. Understanding why Twitter is even considered right for marketing in social media is still important to automotive brands.

There seem to be two dominant, related themes that are drawing brands to Twitter.

1.) The Power of Relationship Marketing that has been promoted in books like Groundswell.
2.) The idea that mass advertising has lost its impact. Seth Godin says, the strategy is to market to the Innovators, “because they care. These are the people that are obsessed with something and, when you talk to them, they’ll listen, they like to listen and it’s about them and if you are lucky they’ll tell their friends.”

So Twitter is about relationships and it’s about word of mouth impact. Some brands are finding success through Twitter by leveraging the popularity of Twitter advocates. American Express recently started Open Forum, an online community for small business owners with Guy Kawasaki a well-known author and entrepreneur, writing for the community. Kawasaki has also leveraged Twitter and has attracted roughly 60,000 people, who follow Guy on Twitter, to the Open Forum site. Examples like this is creating a lot of buzz showing the power of Twitter to attract eyeballs to corporate website endeavors. It’s not the only avenue to promote the site; it’s simply part of the marketing strategy.

Is It a Medium Worth Automakers Time?

So can automotive brands find success in this space? Possibly. I would think more success will come from efforts that are about long-term relationships than setting up temporary Twitter accounts for a vehicle’s launch, those will die when the launch budget dries up and besides relationships take time.

I do like how Scott Monty created accounts around different themes for the Ford brand, like @FordDriveGreen. Unfortunately, very little is posted on these Ford branded Twitter accounts and most of the Ford communications are done via the @ScottMonty account. So, very little relationship marketing is happening from a branded account; instead one person is becoming the relationship, which is risky especially when Ford and Scott part ways.

That said, there is hope that relationship building could happen and could positively impact a brand’s perception if it is an early adopter, which is something Scott Monty is trying to do at Ford by using Twitter so extensively. I agree with Scott’s approach that Twitter is about building relationships and relationship marketing is a driving force that does have some success stories and will have more, even in the automotive world… eventually. Provided they are done right with an achievable goal, effective branding, developing meaningful relationships through honest dialog, and by participating in social media beyond just promoting your marketing driver events.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Just as Difficult to Comprehend as Cubism

The Nissan Cube finally debuted at the LA Auto Show last month, but before that Nissan debuted their Nissan Cube pre-reveal website. The site was tailored to the attention deficit disordered consumer with plenty of clickable cubes that brought you to no content about the car, just a bunch of stuff about cube-isms (witty sayings written by Nissan’s marketing group) and the ability to share the site with your friends. My question is share what? The pre-reveal site had no content about the car. In fact, there is only one shot of the vehicle in a small 150-by-150 pixel shot of the car in a 3/4-rear angle.

The site also featured a Twitter link allowing you to subscribe to Nissan Cube Twitters. There were updates nearly everyday that just sent you more “cube-isms”. There were 118 followers and 88 updates. Some real examples: “my dog gets me”, “I’ve got shag on my mind”, “I roll with the carpool” and my personal favorite “why all the fuss over money?” Huh? The Twitter ended when the car was revealed in LA and now asks people to visit their… you guessed it – Facebook page.

What I wonder is did the Twitter increase engagement? Possibly, but most likely not. The witty statements did fit with the cutesiness of the car and it’s youthful target certainly fits a Twitter user. The big issue I have with the execution is why end it on Twitter when the car is revealed? Few people would ever visit the pre-reveal site since it is not aligned with all of the press releases and auto show coverage. Seems Nissan could’ve had a more significant Twitter audience if they kept it going with their new reveal site and Facebook page.