Showing posts with label Mini. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mini. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand: June 2011

It's another million fan milestone for BMW this last month as they crossed 6 million fans and have annihilated the challenge they were receiving from Audi earlier this year. It's tough to say how much of BMW's fan growth is due to sheer brand advocacy or how much of it is due to marketing efforts from all of its International markets. What is known is that the BMW team is leveraging the behaviors of the Facebook platform in creative ways.

Take for instance the latest activation from BMW where they are showcasing their Two Originals hommage promoting the original 328i with a revised future 328i concept. Part of the effort is a Facebook application that let's their fans create their own film and personal expression that they can then share with friends. It actually gives people a reason to share. It's not just a share button next to a video or promotion asking people to simply "like" a post. This is content integration that is creative and self-expressive which is what social media is all about.

The BMW example pulls in photo content from a Facebook profile and uses that to express the person's originality. It's not too much different than a recent viral execution from Intel called the Museum of Me that also recycled a user's Facebook content for brand benefit.

Meanwhile other brands continue to buy ad units promoting their page. Of note in June were some significant ad buys from Fiat USA who seemed to have an ad pushing their fan page to me about every second or third time I logged into Facebook, oddly I've been a fan for several months. Lexus also ran some ad units that drove to their fan page which accounts for their double-digit 10% growth in June.

Mazda, Dodge and MINI also experienced some decent fan growth in June. Dodge is expanding their social presence and activating some attention to the SRT brand with its Driving SRT and SRT Track Experience fan pages. Oddly the primary Dodge fan page does not "Like" these pages. Though fan growth for Dodge is not really being driven by the SRT pages; instead, Dodge has been running ad units also promoting its brand pages last June. I did not run across media for Mazda or MINI in June, but that's not to say there was no media or promotion through other mediums like email.

Overall it was a pretty slow month in June for automotive Facebook fan pages. The latest development is Google+ in the past week and already Ford has created a page. Perhaps someday this report will be looking at Google+ Circle numbers.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand: April and May 2011

I've been tracking Facebook automotive fans since November 2009 and have never missed a month of data until last month. Unfortunately my early May was extremely busy and I overlooked capturing Facebook fan numbers that month. What is here is fan growth for the months of April and May 2011 combined.

Let’s get to what happened in April and May for automotive brands on Facebook. MINI had the strongest growth over the past 60 days. MINI has been activating user participation with their simple, but elegant idea of “Getting Billboarded” where fans
were able to show their image on a MINI billboard in Berlin. Fans were given the opportunity to share their image from Facebook and those in Berlin were given a photo booth to shoot a picture that would appear on a real billboard. It was a great way to create out of home media with social media. Plus participants were able to save their billboards as images that they could share or use as Facebook profile pictures, but they weren't doing this to only engage but rather to win their very own MINI car.

MINI is also activating their global fan base as a lot of its fans are coming from many countries. This is creating some significant separation on this analysis as brands like Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Porsche are also all activating their global fan base and that is why they are growing at such a stride compared to brands with less of a global impact. Plus all of these brands are aspirational, which helps organic growth dramatically on Facebook, since people fan luxury, high social value brands.

The other brand with some significant growth is Mazda. It’s an interesting time to see some big growth from Mazda since they do not have a vehicle launch during this time.

Mazda is doing their best to increase engagement with their fans and are leveraging their other social properties on the Facebook fan page. They added YouTube and Flickr tabs and are actively promoting content through wall posts. They have also implemented a #MiataMonday idea that asks open questions to their fans.

Mazda is also doing a “Flickr Photo Spotlight” where they are actively looking for Mazda photos on Flickr and then asking photographers to join a Mazda photo Owners Group. Then they are choosing photos to feature on the Mazda Facebook fan page. See the image at left showing one such engagement from Mazda with a Flickr user. This is a great example of showcasing owner enthusiasm and it also brings some fame from the brand to the owner and does it in a simple, respectful way. Bravo to Mazda for being creative in how they leverage multiple social media channels.

One quick thought...

Most automotive ads I’m seeing on Facebook seem to be driving less and less to the brand’s fan page. Most automotive ad buys on the site are sending people to the brand’s website. This makes me wonder if brands are not seeing significant value in growing fans and instead are finding value in Facebook’s ability to segment ad buys by consumer interests and bringing people to brand pages where there is abundantly more information about the products than the brand’s Facebook fan experience.

We are all learning what works and does not work so well on Facebook. After seeing massive ad buys the past couple years from automotive brands spending media to grow fans and now not seeing that behavior; it causes one to wonder if fan growth is not THE metric of success as it once was, that said this blog will still track it to see how a brand’s audience grows.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl XLV Automotive Ads: She Said, He Said Analysis with Melanie Batenchuk

Last year I had such a great time covering the Super Bowl ads with Melanie Batenchuk from the BeCarChic blog that I had to do it again.

This year there was a ton to cover and fortunately some standout ads. I checked out Mullen and Radian6's Brandbowl project that measures number of Twitter mentions and sentiment to find out my two top picks made #1 and #2. So it was a great year for car commercials.

Now for our thoughts...

Audi “Release the Hounds”

HE SAID: Was the hashtag #PrestigeIs? Or #PackersIs? Or #ProgressIs? Does it really matter? Audi’s claim to fame this year was being the first Super Bowl ad to use a Twitter hashtag. I followed the hashtag content for a couple minutes after the ad and people …. But did @Audi even show up? They did. Here is one of the tweets they sent.

So how about the commercial? Horrible. Boring and Kenny G. What was that? It was so incredibly boring and after so many great ads from Audi in prior Super Bowl years. The only good line in the ad was the “hit him with the Kenny G” where the wealthy escapee is sidetracked by some soprano saxophone. Overall though the ad didn’t have the wit of Audi’s recent campaigns.

In an interesting side-note, Audi bought the YouTube home page banner the night of the Super Bowl, hoping anyone there searching for Super Bowl ads would checkout Audi’s too.

SHE SAID: Super Bowl advertisers definitely discovered the promoted Tweet this year. When it comes to Internet technologies, auto industry folks can certainly be a little over-zealous. Audi, while trying to be different, overdid it. I was bombarded by the same 140 character promoted tweet from Audi (including their #ProgressIs hashtag) every 15 to 30 minutes. It would have been more impactful had Audi actually engaged with its community tonight.

I disagree with Chris that the ad was horrible; however, I agree that the best part was “hit them with the Kenny G!” Audi cleverly used the imagery of bourgeois people stuck in their “luxury” cells as a way to show how having a luxury sedan (ahem, a Mercedes-Benz) can be perceived as being stuffy. Audi’s marketing efforts in the past few years have certainly driven their brand far from that stuffy feel, attracting younger buyers who yearn for a ride that’s both sporty and well-appointed.

BMW X3 “Defying Logic”

HE SAID: This ad had a lot to love but the one thing that bothered me was why the focus on America? The ad leads up to the “Designed in America. Built in America” line. I get it’s true and it is a good thing for our country, but people who buy BMWs want German cars, not American cars. Part of me wonders if this messaging backfires for the brand. Honda ran similar made in America ads for their Accords a few years back, but that was in response to the US auto makers claiming they were the job builders of the car industry, not the Japanese. So Honda responded as did Toyota too that they made cars in America that created American jobs.

BMW is a luxury car maker selling an image. Just imagine the horror of some yuppie being told their German car is a South Carolina car. So much for prestige (not that South Carolina is a bad place, but let’s be honest it doesn’t have the cache of German engineering and attention to detail.) Overall, it was a brilliant ad for South Carolina and the great workers of BMW’s factory, but from a brand perspective I just didn’t think it worked in the company’s favor.

SHE SAID: I think it's great that we have GM touting German engineering and BMW telling everyone they build cars in America. This message isn't for car enthusiasts, or even BMW enthusiasts. This message is for rural America - those who have been so loyal to "domestic" brands in the past because they were built on U.S. soil. The Big Three have eased up on this messaging as it has become common knowledge that many of their vehicles are built in Canada and Mexico. Perhaps this will break down some of those nasty protectionism barriers that the automotive industry has faced.

Hyundai did a similar spot last year, sharing the news of their plant in Alabama. I wish that Volkswagen had done the same for their Chattanooga Passat.

BMW Advanced Diesel – “Changes”

HE SAID: Bowie, BMW and Diesels. Is there any more win in a commercial? I think not. The chugging Volvo station wagon up hill blowing out black smoke was classic as was the truck driver coughing up diesel smoke. It was funny and reset a lot of the opinions regarding what a diesel car is today. Times have changed for sure.

SHE SAID: BMW took me back to my youth with this one. I reminisced of my dad’s old powder blue Mercedes Benz 300 diesel (much like this one: I hated the smell that it emitted and the way it rattled before it warmed up in the wintertime.

I think BMW was spot-on with connecting us to our old feelings about diesel, but I’m not sure they did enough to evoke new feelings. Those who reacted to the ad on Twitter did not seem to make a distinction between the diesel of the 70’s and 80’s and the diesel technologies of today.

Chevrolet “Bumblebee”

HE SAID: In full disclosure, I can’t stand the Transformer movies. They are so awful. That aside, I think the ad played well with its unexpected plot and poking fun at the absurdity of most dealership ads. Mascot, cheerleaders, and balloons all added to the mockery, but where was the giant inflatable gorilla or free hot dogs? Come on Chevy if you are going to make fun of your dealer ads, don’t forget the free food.

SHE SAID: I think this was the most action-packed ad of the evening. Poking fun at dealers’ local ads never gets old. The twist of the Transformers Camaro made me wonder if it was a Chevy ad or a movie trailer. I will say, however, that Chevrolet did the best job at showcasing its models – each of its ads included a different model and a different marketing spin. That was smart move on their behalf, especially considering where GM was as a company just two years ago.

But, more than anything, what I liked best about this commercial slash movie trailer was that Megan Fox was nowhere in it.

Chevy Cruze “Misunderstanding”

HE SAID: A brilliant and fun way to emphasize 42 mpg fuel economy on the all-new Cruze Eco model. With a lot of cars now doing 40 plus mpgs, I’m not sure how well it stands out these days, but it is a good message for Chevy and a creative way to drive a product benefit home.

SHE SAID: With so much emphasis on the young and sexy, it was fun to see Chevy use the humor of these cantankerous senior citizens. The ad succeeded in calling out the Cruze Eco model.

Chevy Silverado “Tommy”

HE SAID: Chevy takes a break from their heritage branding and borrows from some other Americana – Lassie. The Silverado becomes its own rescue saving machine. It was a decent ad, but like the rest of the Chevy (and Hyundai) ads it just wasn’t very memorable and the Super Bowl is all about being Super. Maybe instead of trying to do four ads during the game, maybe one really impressive ad – like Chrysler’s – would’ve been a better route to go.

SHE SAID: Chevy deepened its American-at-heart branding with this classic spin on the TV show we all loved. I think Chevy should have played out fewer storylines within the time constraints in order to make a stronger impression. If there was only one rescue story for viewers to follow from beginning to end, then that would have made it more memorable.

Chevy Cruze “Status”

HE SAID: Oh great now I can listen to my aunt complain about her day at work in a Chevy Cruze. Is this progress? Well at least the ad shows a cute way it is helpful; though, a successful first date didn’t involve a Facebook status update when I was young. Times change I suppose, in this case for the worse. The ad was cute but not very memorable or entertaining; though, it did garner some discussion about Facebook more than Chevy where I was at.

SHE SAID: Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Chevy’s Facebook status ad was adorable. That being said, I’m not sure it makes sense for Chevy to try to compete with Ford’s Sync technology this late in the game. I felt as if the Detroit car maker was saying “Hey, we can do voice command, too. Oh, and don’t forget social networking sites updates!”

Watching the Twitter conversation was interesting. There were numerous tweets about how having a car read its driver Facebook status updates does not eliminate distracted driving. I believe that drivers are going to text and check their social networks regardless of rules and regulations, so why not give them the tools to do it more safely?

Chevy Camaro “Miss Evelyn”

HE SAID: Chevy goes with the let’s run through every cliché and then ends with another cliché. Any ad that begins with “I got a great idea for… commercial” is going to be lame. It wasn’t interesting. The better Camaro spot was their placement of the Camaro convertible during the MVP ceremony after the game.

SHE SAID: I had fun watching the brainstorming process that goes into advertising play out in an absurd way. The ad was definitely clever…and I’m sure the guys didn’t mind having three or four beautiful women (blonde, brunette, red-head) to feast their eyes on. Right Chris?

Chrysler “Imported from Detroit”

HE SAID: After Eminem was earlier featured in Lipton commercial saying he doesn’t do commercials while in a commercial as a cartoon, the Chrysler spot showed up taking over a full two minute commercial break. It definitely won a lot of hearts and minds from what I saw on Twitter after it aired. A few people where even asking for an “Imported from Detroit” t-shirt (hear that Chrysler?)

It was a great ad from the agency that won AdAge Agency of the Year Wieden+Kennedy. So no surprise they knocked the adorable VW Vader out from being my favorite from Super Bowl XLV.

On the negative side, too bad they couldn’t of used a better car than a refreshed Sebring, aka the 200. The 300 would’ve been a much better vehicle with its stance and new lines. I’m sure Chrysler would’ve loved to have used the new 300 instead. Unfortunately it’s made in Brampton, Ontario and “Imported from Ontario” kind of deflates the ad’s impact.

SHE SAID: The crowd – both online and offline – overwhelmingly identified with Chrysler’s two-minute commercial depicting Detroit as the come-back city. Using Eminem solidified the automaker’s fight to survive hard times. Chrysler was smart to latch on to his tough-guy brand.

“Imported from Detroit” was definitely the most powerful ad (at least emotionally) of the Super Bowl. Unlike Chevy and Audi, Chrysler didn’t need to spend money on promoted tweets because everyone was still talking about the ad hours after it aired.
The longer length of the ad left me questioning why others don’t do the same and whether this could become a trend in the next Super Bowl.

Ford Focus “Focus Rally”

HE SAID: In the pre-game show, Ford premiered their Focus Rally commercial asking TV viewers to “Join Our Team.” It wasn’t very clear to me what join our team meant since it didn’t really say what a team was or why I would want to join a team. Perhaps that more complex message can be answered at the Focus Rally website. I wasn’t alone as I immediately saw this tweet showing the same confusion, hopefully for Ford people will take the time to find out and apparently they did as the website was unavailable when I tried to check it out after the ad.

SHE SAID: I give Ford props for its attempt to use traditional advertising to spark a social media movement. The automaker prompted viewers to visit its microsite to learn more about the Focus cross-country rally contest. People can participate in this interactive race and even win a new 2012 Focus. It will be interesting to see how successful it is.

Hyundai Elantra “Sheep”, “Childhood”, “Hypnotized”, “Deprogramming”

HE SAID: I barely remembered any of these ads and had to go back on YouTube to refresh my memory. And no I didn’t drink a lot, I had two beers during the game and one was a root beer. “Harness your Spirit Animal” lacked the punch of Chrysler’s end tagline “Imported from Detroit.” The hypnotized ad was the freakiest of the car ads this year and lost me.

“Sheep” was the best of this bunch. It really made me look again at the design of the vehicle and this is a good thing as Hyundai’s Elantra is great addition to their lineup.

SHE SAID: Hyundai is clearly good at coming up with themes for its advertising. I thought that these ads were decent, but not memorable. I remember Jeff Bridges’ voiceover more than the actual commercials. I think I would have liked to see Hyundai’s thriller “Car Wash” ad in the Super Bowl in place of a few of the others.

On the other hand, the “sheep” ad wasn’t all that “baaaaaad.” (Sorry, I just had to do it.)

Hyundai Sonata “Anachronistic City”

HE SAID: The Hyundai ad wasn’t a Super Bowl debut, but it was fairly new and showcased their move into the crowded Hybrid segment. It’s a good ad but like many others it just missed the mark of making any sort of impact when everyone is paying extra attention to the commercials; instead, of fast forwarding through on the DVR.

SHE SAID: If Hyundai was attempting a comparison ad, I think they missed the mark. It would have been nice to see which hybrids they were lining up against the Sonata hybrid. I found the tagline humorous and memorable, but I didn’t remember that this ad was for a car. Oh, and how many people know the definition of “anachronistic?”.

Kia “One Epic Ride”

HE SAID: I’ve been in enough creative meetings to know this ad was one of those outrageous reach for the sky budget ads. That’s all glitz. Unfortunately, the Kia brand doesn’t get me thinking “epic” and this commercial only said to me that the creative budget was epic but that it did little to nothing to move the brand message. Too bad, because the Optima is a great car and over promising only hurts the positive accolades the car deserves. Instead no one saw why it is a major jump for the Kia brand since all we’ll remember, if we remember anythings, is the Poseidon-like water king.

SHE SAID: Kia debuted its 2012 Optima with this movie trailer-esque ad. The storyline was weak for me, and the dude in the helicopter reminded me of an older version of Speed Racer. I couldn’t quite grasp what Kia was selling here. Maybe it’s because I’m not sold on the fact that consumers are fighting over their vehicles. But I did like how it finished; incorporating the Mayans is never a bad thing.

Mercedes Benz “Welcome to the Family”

HE SAID: A very well done, though mostly unmemorable spot for Mercedes. Honestly any commercial with a 300 SL Gullwing is great in my book and with so many excellent classic cars it definitely peaked my auto geek interest. The only part that bugged me was the inclusion of a celebrity, in this case P-Diddy or whatever his name is this year, that seemed completely unnecessary and took away from the romance of the classic cars. Perhaps someone in marketing felt no one would pay attention if it only showed cars. They were wrong.

SHE SAID: Having visited the Mercedes-Benz museum in Germany last fall, I enjoyed this commercial because it displayed the automaker’s long-standing history. MB recently celebrated its 125th anniversary, and I think this ad paid homage to that accomplishment.

MINI “Cram It in the Boot”

HE SAID: Seriously? “Cram it in the Boot”? Plenty of room to cram? Nothing like some good old fashion butt sex humor to get the football watching Americans laughing. This was such a sad attempt at being sexually suggestive for cheap laughs, perhaps MINI figured if they ran this spot late in the game we’d all be drunk enough to laugh away.

SHE SAID: In MINI’s debut Super Bowl appearance, it put the game show spotlight on its new Countryman crossover. This was my least favorite auto ad. Any Brits out there care to enlighten me on the humor?
MINI does give us a good look at the vehicle. Although, I have to say, the styling of the vehicle is so similar to the MINI Cooper, that it’s difficult to tell the proportions and size difference of the Countryman on TV. I saw the vehicle in person at the Washington Auto Show. It’s quaint yet extremely sporty. Though I’m not sure how many “moms-on-the-go” will be driving it. I liked MINI’s pre-Super Bowl ad “Emergency” better.

Volkswagen “The Force”

HE SAID: Brilliant. The ad, not the car. The new Passat is a major disappointment but at least marketing is doing its best to salvage what is basically a slightly larger Jetta. As VW tries to cut costs in their cars to be more price competitive, they decide to do some rights licensing from George Lucas.

SHE SAID: Volkswagen won the hearts of Star Wars geeks everywhere with this one. The 2012 Passat ad was cute and appealed to pretty much everyone. As a dad to two young boys, I'm sure Chris can relate to this more than I can. The ad couldn't have been better; however, I would like to have seen an ad featuring VW's new plant in Tennessee, where they now build the Passat for the U.S.

Volkswagen “Black Beetle”

HE SAID: This year’s best commercial soundtrack goes to VW (best one in 2010 was Kia using “Do You Like Me Know” by The Heavy.) Jon Spencer Blues Explosion recorded the “Black Beauty” cover for the ad. It has great energy and the turbo boosted beetle with racing stripes was a nice touch, but to get the best experience for this spot go to YouTube. Volkswagen created a full YouTube home page takeover last week that is the better experience. Check it out now.

SHE SAID: Another hit by Volkswagen. It was unexpected, energetic, and personified a crunchy, black bug. What more could you ask for?


Monday, October 11, 2010

Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand: September 2010

Let’s get the big news out of the way. BMW surpassed the 2 Million fan number September 28th. On July 5th they hit 1 Million fans, so in a mere 3 months they gained over 1.1 Million fans. BMW has been on a fan rampage and finished the month promoting their secret reveal (I’m guessing it’s the new BMW 6-series.)

Hyundai saw a massive increase in fans as they nearly doubled their fans in September from 41,653 to 82,773 fans. This was done in part by some reachblock ad units I did see Hyundai run on the Facebook site. Others doing reachblock ads where Cadillac and Toyota continued to promote their safety and user story ads throughout the month of September.

Honda worked on promoting their Honda CR-Z Hybrid, but the ad units drove consumers to the CR-Z vehicle page. Honda saw a typical 10% gain on the brand page. Unfortunately, I think they missed an opportunity to drive more fan traffic to their primary brand page. It’s interesting to note that at the end of September Honda’s luxury family member Acura decided to abandon their vehicle fan pages. It will be interesting to see if Honda makes a similar move with their product fan pages or if other brands will follow Acura’s lead here, especially as brands probably look to 2011 and 2012 as ways to increase social media efficiency as social destination effectiveness comes clear with years worth of supporting data.

MINI finished their major Facebook campaign where they gave away a MINI Countryman from their Facebook fan page. Fred Manuel Roldan Rivero from Lisbon, Portugal won the MINI Countryman and the brand shared the giveaway PR event with their fans. Overall it was a nice promotion for the Facebook fans but MINI didn’t really see any major bump in fans which I find interesting because this contest may have more to do with energizing its fans than say growing the fan base. I don’t have any of the ad units promoting the event, if there were any, but MINI only saw a mediocre 11% increase in fans in September and XXX% in August. It’s tough to judge the contest as I don’t know what MINI was trying to drive. I assume handraisers and contest entries but Facebook fan growth didn’t seem to be a goal or a goal that wasn’t met.

In another notable move, Scion experienced a 34% jump that probably was due to the launch of Scion in Canada. Previously, Scion was only available in the United States. Scion launched the brand in Canada last month and one can assume the launch helped some fan growth from those to our north.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand: August 2010

It was bound to happen and September was finally that month where I didn’t have an opportunity to get the monthly Facebook Fans report up on the blog in the first couple days after capturing the numbers. Fortunately, I did record all the fan counts on September 3, but with the Labor Day weekend and a week of social media fun on the new job (more here at TechCrunch.) I didn’t get a chance until now to finally analyze this month’s data.

First, let’s talk about the brand I used to do digital strategy for: Lincoln. Lincoln’s growth in August definitely received a major jolt as it increased fans from 4,533 to 13,161 leading to a 190% increase. Most of this can be attributed to a contest Lincoln was running in July and August where the brand showcased a chance to be the first to test-drive the all new Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. Lincoln created a special tab for the MKZ and also accompanied the promotion with some email marketing and advertising on Facebook. Of course, the jump is significant, because Lincoln’s fan base is a small number so adding almost 9,000 fans will cause a big boost percentage wise.

Another brand with a rather small fan count, but also a generous gain in fans was Mitsubishi. They saw a 44% gain in fans as they added nearly 13,000 fans in the month. They had several sweepstakes where fans could win a Flip SlideHD Camcorder, $500 gas card, Nikon Digital SLR camera, and ultimately a trip to Japan. Giveaways are certainly an effective way to gain “Likes” as we see in several reports about why people “Like” a brand on Facebook with the number one reason being discounts, support for company number two, and number 3 to get a freebie (full study from ExactTarget.)

Finally, in the giveaway to get Fans Facebook strategy, Mini also participated with their Win a Countryman contest. They saw a strong 36% increase in fans. Product launches naturally tend to increase fan counts beyond the normal 3-6% organic growth, but by adding a giveaway Mini boosted their growth significantly.

Toyota continues to do a lot of marketing on Facebook. They continued throughout August with ads throughout the Facebook site where they mostly promoted their Auto-Biography contest where participants submit videos about their personal experience with Toyota. Toyota is letting the message come from customers, a very smart message after a year I’m sure the company can’t wait to be over.

The other big news for August is BMW is rapidly gaining fans to cross the 2 million fan mark. They just crossed 1 million fans back in July. Yet, they continue to still spend time on the BMW USA fan page. Segmenting fans by creating unique fan pages has never been a good approach in my book, especially considering you can segment your messages to your fan base by using Facebook’s features to send a message only to people in a particular geographic location. That issue aside, they are dominating in the automotive Facebook fan grab.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand: June 2010

Well after a fairly mild, ho-hum couple months life is heating up on the automotive brand fan pages with several companies upping their marketing on the site and a lot of double digital month-over-month growth from several brands in June.

The big battle of fans was last month’s BMW vs. Audi battle royal. It seems both brands answered the challenge by working hard to get new fans. BMW had a staggering 36% increase in fans which is an insane growth percentage from a brand with already the highest numbers of major automotive fans on the social media site. They added 244,181 fans in one month!

Audi did very well too with a 16% growth rate and 103,255 fans added in June. That’s almost the total amount of Toyota Facebook fans; 107,389 fans to be exact.

I’m still trying to figure out what BMW and Audi did to drive so many “Likes” in one month. My guess is outreach to owners through Become a Fan messaging and some social media marketing on Facebook, but I can’t confirm either.

Toyota did a lot of marketing on Facebook this month, but they didn’t do it to drive people to the Toyota fan page; instead, they took users to their Toyota Safety landing page where they are working on their safety perception issue after many recalls.

Lexus had its own Facebook goals where they drove consumers to their Facebook fan page by enticing them with the new halo vehicle advertisement for the new LFA super car. The message must be getting through as my own father in-law, not a car guy at all, started asking me about the LFA one day on a Home Depot run; though, he saw the ad on television.

Honda reignited their love machine this month by running Facebook ads for their Everybody Knows Somebody Who Loves a Honda Facebook application and they even did a Father’s Day ad that tied in that Day’s message with Honda’s own campaign message (sorry I had a screenshot of the ad but must not have saved it.)

Mini and Infinti both had big jumps in fans with 32% and 43% gains respectively. Infiniti ran a campaign promoting their Cirque du Soleil contest that brought users to a Facebook tab promoting the contest. Meanwhile, Mini had its fun challenging Porsche to a race.

The Mini vs. Porsche effort definitely spawned some major engagement with its fans that mostly loved the idea of challenging the all mighty Porsche 911.

It certainly was a crazy June on Facebook. I’m curious what July will bring.

UPDATE: Thanks to one of my new Twitter followers @ChrisBrashear it seems Audi ran a photo upload contest in June which I'm sure was supported with some ad dollars on the site too.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Can We Please Permanently Getaway from Flash Mobs

Flash mob MINI - l'attraversamento più lungo della storia! from Alice Coppola on Vimeo.

Mini Italy proves we all need to getaway from doing any more flash mobs. There is a Countryman Italian site the flash mob is promoting:

P.S. - Sorry about Mini being the subject of the 3 of my last 4 blog posts.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mini Trains to Upset Porsche's Piece of Iron

Okay, I'm allowed to be wrong. Right? Well in the case of Mini vs Porsche I'm now a fan of what this marketing mayhem has become especially with the latest piece that pits Porsche as Ivan Drago and Mini as underdog Rocky Balboa.

The best part of this execution is how Mini launched the "Mini Rocky IV" video on the video comedy site Funny or Die. The page is surrounded with ad units promoting Mini's event to race Porsche and to add to the consumer interest Mini is looking for someone to drive a Porsche Carrera S against a Mini Cooper S.

So I'll admit it. The Mini vs Porsche campaign is getting interesting and is generating a lot of dialog amongst fans from both brands and other auto enthusiasts. It's fun and getting really absurd, in a good way.

Just like Apple, never bet against Mini.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mini Throws Down Its Little Gauntlet

Public manufacturer versus manufacturer challenge invites are just plain dumb. The latest one is a marketing effort from Mini asking Porsche to race its 911 against a Mini Cooper S at Road Atlanta.

As Porsche’s President and CEO of North America Detlev Von Platen (or “Det” as I like to call him for short) puts it so well to Mini, “We welcome you at Sebring, Le Mans, Daytona or any other sanctioned race where there is more at stake than T-shirts and valet parking spaces.”

The Porsche President and CEO and anyone else with half a brain knows that if Mini really wants to race another manufacturer they have a couple real options:

Why Mini's Challenge Is Weak

Do as “Det” says and enter your car in a sanctioned race. Commit yourself to racing, don’t just do some lame publicity stunt. If you do want to do a marketing version than just do it. Here is how.

Take your car and buy a manufacturer’s car and race the two cars at a track. Even better use the same driver to man both cars and race for times to see which car really performs best since any true racing fan knows the person driving has a huge impact on winning. (By the way, we did this with the Lincoln MKS 6 versus 8 Challenge and yes we did it at a high altitude for a reason.)

Copy General Motors and do something similar to what Bob Lutz did with the “May the Best Car Win” that became the CTS-V Challenge.

Now this effort was a bit more organic than say Mini’s boardroom marketing idea. See Lutz just made an open challenge that of course was rightfully ignored by the manufacturers, but interestingly not ignored by a Wes Siler from the blog Jalopnik. Wes’ pressing of GM led to a competition where the manufacturers opted out and owners and bloggers showed up to race Lutz. Unfortunately they also raced a heavily loaded track of CTS-Vs and one manned by professional driver John Heinricy - to make sure a Cadillac won.

What worked so well for GM is that they got the online community involved and the trash talking was instantaneous. A manufacturer-to-manufacturer challenge just doesn’t have the same appeal. If a company really wants to challenge another brand, get some competitor vehicles and go at it.

A public challenge is a cheap way at an attempt to generate buzz. It didn't do much as buzz dropped to nothing after the June 9th when mini announced their challenge.

Facebook Response

Mini USA posted the Porsche response letter three times on its fan page. I’m guessing multiple people are administrating the page and failing to check what's posted. That aside, the response from the fans was an overwhelmingly positive rah-rah for Mini mainly saying that Porsche is chicken. So it did rally some already pumped owners or fans of the brand. A few people actually wondered why Mini isn’t responding by entering Mini into the racing circuit. We all know why that isn’t happening…

UPDATE June 16, 2010: And it keeps getting weird...


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Brief Life of Twitter Campaign Accounts

Well-known social media author/blogger Brian Solis once wrote, “Social Media is about breaking down barriers to engage in conversations.” Unfortunately, a lot of marketing teams forget that a social networking site like Twitter is all about conversation and to truly establish meaningful conversation you have to build a relationship with those who discuss your brand, product, or marketing effort.

Twitter accounts established solely for marketing campaigns are pointless and essentially demonstrate a marketing team that doesn’t really get what Twitter or even conversational marketing is all about – relationships.

I have been following several automotive marketing campaign Twitter accounts created to extend a campaign into the popular social media site. After watching many of these efforts, it became quite clear that the “conversation” only lasts until that campaign’s marketing team is reassigned and budget is exhausted.

This chart shows several Twitter accounts created solely for a marketing campaign or event marketing purpose. Here you can see how the accounts died a quick death, how many people followed, and how much engagement happened from the account's marketing team. One striking fact is that the average automotive marketing Twitter account is only active for 74 days (barely 2 months.)

Conversationally Challenged

Communications average 263 tweets during the limited time the accounts are active with most producing only around 100 tweets. Two campaigns here showed significantly higher engagement levels. The Hyundai @roadtrip149 account was giving away free iPods last August and this created a lot of Retweets and promotional communications for the iPod giveaways. Kia’s @KiaCollective account promoted several free concert events on its microsite that were part of its campaign which led to a lot of communications out to followers about new concert announcements.

The only account I could find that was decent at establishing relationships with their followers was the Volkswagen @SluggyPatterson campaign. The Punch Dub campaign the Twitter account references is personified by a grumpy old man named Sluggy Patterson who supposedly invented the Punch Dub game, where one punches someone the minute they see a VW. Engagement happens by interacting with this fictional character who seemed to mimic the popular Twitter identity @ShitMyDadSays. The account did enhance the marketing experience and really did work well to promote the campaign’s concept. Unfortunately, the team doing it only participated for 67 days.

All seven of the examples here are dormant Twitter accounts since they have been inactive for months. Of the seven only one account actually told its followers to follow the primary Twitter account for the brand. The @ThisisiQ account from the UK directs its followers to move to the @ToyotaGB account to continue engaging with the iQ and its blog.

Relationships Take Time Campaigns Don't Have

One thing is very clear when it comes to marketing campaign Twitter accounts, they don’t last long enough to provide any relationship with its followers and since there is no significant engagement there is no significant value. Brands really need consider if accounts like these are worth the effort? I’m sure some resources had to be funded to support the Twitter accounts and by the look of things the benefit to the brand and campaign is minuscule at best.

If marketing teams really want to bring their campaigns under the social media umbrella, they should do so using an established brand Twitter account that can be used to continue the relationship keeping it fresh and, most important, long-term.

An example of this strategic approach is what @Jeep is doing with its Tiki Hunt marketing effort. They did not establish a Tiki Hunt Twitter account to engage with people; instead, they are directing people to the @Jeep account and building followers and fostering engagement through their brand account which will continue to engage their followers long after the Tiki Hunt campaign is over.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mini Owners Logged Their Top-Down Driving to Win

Site reviewed: The Open One Challenge

Mini wrapped up a contest early last February where owners of the second generation Mini Cooper convertible shared their recorded top-down driving miles through a web site called The winner ended up logging 555.5 miles. David Loveall’s Mini is his first car and will doing his traveling sales job he was able to win a trip for two to Oxford, England at the Mini factory.

I originally caught this story in the latest issue of Roundel magazine. For those who don’t know, Roundel is the monthly magazine for the BMW Car Club of America (@BMWCCA on Twitter) that’s for BMW and Mini owners. They had a small blurb about the winner of the challenge that has gone on since July 28, 2009 and ended December 31, 2009.

I’m not sure how this contest was promoted or who it was supposed to reach. There was an event logged by the Mini USA Facebook administrator but it only registered a few participants. The Mini USA website still has an active link to the Open One Challenge under the top navigation Play menu item (see image at left.)

Since this was a contest only owners could participate in, I would guess enrollment was mainly done via email or owner website outreach to get people interested in the prizing.

Mini’s press release stated, “MINI customers who entered the contest were asked to personalize a profile page with photos of their Open Motoring experience. Photos of all the participants’ journeys.”

There was a minor appeal to get non-owners involved where people could create their own photo gallery to post their own “Open Road adventures with a camera.” The Mini press release says their were some 400 participants but from what I can tell only 115 actually logged hours against their top-down driving.

The site is still up even after awarding the prize February 4, 2010; even the link is still live from the Mini USA website navigation. Content hasn’t been reworked to appeal to those who didn’t participate in the contest. Perhaps it will remain live as a site for a while. One wonders though what appeal the site has now that the contest is done? Unfortunately, the content isn’t very interesting to anyone except for those who played the game.

If you want to see several screenshots from site please check out the Behance Network’s site.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Fuel Economy Messaging Without the MPGs

While everyone is talking about 1 or 2 mile per gallon differences in fuel economy, MINI decided to put a different spin on the fuel economy message with this odd TV spot from Canada done by agency Taxi 2 in Toronto.

What I personally like is the ad is far more memorable than flashing a MPG rating next to some sheet-metal. It conveys the MINI is a fuel efficient car. Sure the MINI isn't the most fuel efficient and yes there are bigger cars with betting MPG ratings. Here the marketing team probably realized they couldn't impress with a big MPG number, so why not make the message more emotional, more interesting -- appeal to the benefit of great fuel economy.

Nicely done, even if it is a bit disturbing.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

BMW Downshifts from Half a Million Fans to Zero

I had a “why? Moment” this evening checking my Facebook Updates inbox. There was a message from BMW USA on February 20th inviting me to join their fan page. A new BMW Fan Page from the brand that just celebrated having over half a million fans is creating a whole new fan page for their U.S. team. Why? Why separate your brand into two distinct branded Facebook experiences?

For those who don’t know, MINI decided last October to create an official home for the global MINI brand from zero after they already had over 160,000 fans on a MINIUSA fan page. Since that time the MINIUSA fan page has lost a few fans in their total fan count and the new official MINI brand fan page has gained over 70,000 fans. It never really made sense why MINI didn’t just assume the 160,000 fans of the USA page and then grow the official MINI global brand fan page to increase the brand’s reach and have one single destination for all fans to congregate around.

Now BMW is following the same strategy of having a distinct USA fan page from their global page, but unlike MINI, BMW had the fans already at a global fan page. Both BMW and MINI are global brands without much variation in product or even messaging and both brands had pretty decent fan numbers to continue to build from.

In my opinion, there are some issues with this approach:

1. Confuses search result destination for potential fans. People who search Facebook for the brand are presented a couple options and most will likely choose the one with the larger fan base or the cleaner name – i.e. MINI, not MINIUSA.

2. The brand has to build two fan bases. The marketing of the fan page now becomes a country of origin issue and the brand now has to decide if marketing campaigns or customer communications will point people to the USA or global fan pages. Why cause this issue every time the brand goes to market their Facebook presence? It doesn’t make any sense especially when the global fan page is made up of a significant US population of fans?

3. Dividing fans reduces the overall fan count for a brand. Reducing fans by splitting them up reduces the effectiveness of the social community’s reach, since fewer fans mean fewer people getting a status update, promotion, images or other news.

4. If a communication is relevant to both groups of fans, the community managers must collaborate on messaging and also post the same content on two different pages, again an inefficiency for the brand.

Seems to me if you are truly a global brand like MINI and BMW are, there is absolutely no reason to create more work by having to market, communicate and develop two distinct communities one for the USA and one for everyone including the USA.


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand: January 2010

There is one clear leader in this month’s Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand report: Volvo. They ran some advertising campaigns developed for the Facebook platform. The first is one that’s been up a few months but was continuing to get some media dollars, Drive Around the World. The other is a lifestyle brand experience called Ice Camp that also has its own Facebook page.

The Drive Around the World has Facebook friends travel together as each friend takes over the drive like passing a baton in a race. Volvo will then donate 15,000 Euros to a charity that fights Global Warming. Obviously the game has broad appeal with the charity aspect and social enablement. Altogether Volvo saw a 421% increase in January fan numbers. Quite impressive though like many of the huge percentage changes we have seen they only started with 11,875 fans at the beginning of the month.

Most brands saw typical gains in January. GM brands saw a slowing down since backing off media spend on the platform, particularly Chevrolet and Cadillac (both had 50% gains in recent months), but this is typical and shows the difference between organic and media driven growth.

Zoom. Zoom.

Mazda saw a nice improvement this month. They also moved their Mazda North America page into the Mazda Facebook fan page which got rid of some confusion around how one follows the brand. The now retired Mazda North America fan page was more for Public Relations communications which seemed duplicative to the fan page.

Both MINI and Acura ran advertisements in Facebook that I caught during the month. The Acura one was for increasing fans of their ZDX vehicle page, not the primary brand fan page. Meanwhile MINI promoted their coming Countryman SUV. This shows that both brands are interested in further developing vehicle fan pages which to me seems odd since both are niche vehicles and it would be better to get consumers engaged more with the brand than an isolated product.

Toyota’s Public Relations Issue

Toyota is an interesting brand this month, not so much for its growth but it’s public relations fiasco with its faulty pedals on 8 vehicles. Currently, the Toyota fan page has a status update pointing fans to for information about the company’s response and updates. This shows that brand pages can act as another communication medium to keep consumers up to date on major announcements.

Brands be warned; one “fan” keeps posting a news video that discusses Toyota allegedly concealing and destroying information. That “fan” has posted the story five times with four posts having been deleted by the page administrators. He continues to post the story on the Toyota fan page wall. So, it works both ways and the brand should just let the post live since it is just a link to a news story and removing these posts might cause more of a PR issue.

Download the Excel file: Facebook Auto Fan File (January 2010)

Monday, January 18, 2010

MINI's Eloquent Trash

There’s a behind the scenes article in MarketingProfs today about the MINI Cooper cardboard box idea that was done in Amsterdam last December. It provides some insight around what the creative team went through, how much the effort cost (under 5,000 Euros), and how the team responded to a similar idea done a few weeks before by Heineken. You should read the article. It is definitely an unique look behind the scenes, one we rarely get in this industry.

So how was the idea? Was it really “cleaver”? At first, I was a bit – so what? Who really cares about empty cardboard boxes on a few street corners around Amsterdam? Sure it’s cutesy. Yes it is typical MINI brand whimsy, but does it really do anything for the client's business?

Spending under 5,000 Euros was money well spent. The idea was covered across the blogsphere and MarketingProfs had their initial MINI cardboard box article retweeted across Twitter. People really liked the concept. Sure most of those retweeting the article were probably ad industry people, but the idea also received a decent amount of attention – for a very low cost – on several automotive sites.

The ad also communicated a clear, concise message. An empty box after Christmas shows everyone what you got for Christmas and a car stands out. Plus it creates desire in a fun, unique way. There’s a spark of jealousy that someone received a new MINI Cooper when all the passerby may have received were some socks and fruitcake.

What’s interesting to ad people is how a simple idea like this can generate so much viral attention, especially when most viral ideas involve hundreds of thousands of dollars for some Facebook application or video web series. So, it’s refreshing to see a simple idea generate interest at such scale.

The only thing I wonder is could another automaker have done this with a similar response? Yes, but few could. Maybe BMW or even Lexus as a play on their big red bow advertising. Unfortunately, I doubt a Chrysler or GM could have pulled it off. Mainly because they would’ve received backlash for not recycling or comments asking who would want a Sebring? Or can I return this Aveo before 31 days?

The thing is this probably works best for MINI because their brand has a whimsy and cool image. The brand helps the idea immensely. Even so, there is a lesson here. A simple message really can breakthrough and what’s great is that the message isn’t about some complicated new technology or performance benefit. No, in this case, it’s just the simple message of desire wrapped up in a cultural behavior; everyone can see what a person receives for Christmas just by checking out the next day’s trash.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Glimpse of How Automotive Brands are Engaging with Their Facebook Fans

I have done a couple months of analyzing brand fan counts and seeing how brands attract fans through different media buys and social outreach. What I haven’t done, until now, is examine how they engage fans once they have attracted a considerable audience.

I looked at five brands that have roughly the same number of fans (47,608 – 66,331.) I was expecting some similarities in how these brands engaged with fans, but instead found five very distinct forms of engagement. No one was applying the same communication strategy which makes this analysis more of a look at different approaches with only a single example of each approach.

It's also important to note that this analysis is only one month of data. There may be different levels of engagement from brands based on when they have more or less news to share. I figured the past month was interesting because of so many industry events giving brands lots to talk about. There was the public days of the Los Angeles Auto Show (media days happened 12/2-12/3), Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and the first day of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) during the period analyzed.

The other thing to note is that the two measurements I use, Engagement Rate and Post Rate, may not be the goals of a brand's Facebook strategy. For example, communications may have more to do with communicating information from stories or videos instead of just fostering comments through open-ended status updates.

Tale of Two Measurements

The post rate looks at how many posts a brand made in a given month and divides that number by 31 days, since I only took a last month view of the post rate (12/11/09 – 01/11/10).

Post Rate: (brand posts / 31) x 100

The post rate could be higher than normal because of three big events and how brand’s promoted their news in the month.

Ford was by far the most active in communicating news and events around the three major events, especially considering how the Ford Fiesta made its U.S debut, MyFord/MyLincoln technology premiered, and the 2012 Ford Focus had its global reveal. A lot of communication happened during this one-month stretch for the brand. A total of 51 wall posts for Ford with Chevrolet coming in second in posts at 10 – a significant difference between the top two engaging brands that were reviewed in this analysis.

For Engagement Rate, I utilized a method applied by FrozenFrogs, a digital & emerging media agency. I modified their formula a bit to show how engaged the fan base is, on average, with content posted by the brand, but instead of dividing by days it divides by number of a fans a fan page has to get to a rate of engagement activity.

Engagement Rate: ((avg. comments + avg. likes) / fans) x 100
Is It Quality vs. Quantity?

Ford takes an approach of a lot of content, at least in the busy past month. Sometimes several wall posts were in the same day; though, this rarely happened, it did happen on big event days like the auto shows and CES where there was a lot to promote.

What the data shows is that heavy frequency may decrease engagement activities (i.e. comments and likes.) What the data does not show is do people get the message from the communication, for example click the links to read more if a communication is say a link to a story? Also, collective engagement in a single day may be greater from three stories than say just posting one story.

Chevrolet looks like it is either well balanced in engagement activities on a post or they keep getting the same people responding (I checked and it’s not the latter.) Like Ford, Chevrolet posted stories on its wall that linked out to articles or videos. Their highest engagement came from just wishing their fans a happy holidays, something Toyota and Lexus both learned too on their pages.

The stories from Ford and Chevrolet are not lacking in quality; rather, the difference in engagement activity may have more to do with frequency of posts. Ford at 51 posts and Chevrolet at 10. Ford’s quantity netted an overall 6,731 comments and links versus Chevrolet’s 1,791 total comments and links. So while per story engagement was low for Ford, the brand had 275% more activity than Chevrolet.

What Got Fans’ Attention?

It’s no surprise but vehicle stories performed the best. Chevrolet’s Camaro and Aveo RS posts did very well, as did the Ford Mustang 5.0 story which was the best performing wall post across the five brands analyzed with 674 engagement activities. MINI did very well too with their only post for the month on the Beachcomber concept with 571 activities.

As mentioned briefly above, wishing fans a happy holidays or New Year also lead to considerable engagement; though, here we have to wonder if the engagement has much value since it does little to get the fans informed and motivated about the brand’s products or services. It does do one positive thing and that’s get the community talking which will lead to activities done by a fan to show up on their news feed in Facebook which may attract their network to a brand’s fan page.

Story vs. Status

Toyota had 7 wall posts in the month reviewed and 5 of the posts were just text status updates asking fans what their holiday driving plans are to what their New Year’s resolution is.

Status updates do generate a lot of engagement activity, since the examples here used open-ended updates to spark conversation.

Other brands shared Public Relations stories or product stories on their pages. We’ve already discussed how product stories generate a high response, but it’s important to note that it didn’t really seem to matter if posts were stories or videos or if they were from the company itself or links to a trusted news source like the New York Times. Though to be clear, it didn’t matter as far as engagement on the Facebook page went. What we don’t know is if links were clicked on more or less if sourced from the company or a trusted news source.

MINI Where Are’t Thou?

MINI was the biggest surprise to me when pulling this analysis together. I expected the darling of consumer engagement and fun marketing to be a bit more charismatic on their fan page. Oddly enough there was just one post from the brand.

MINI promoted its concept that debuted at NAIAS. There was not even a Happy Holidays status message. Maybe it was a slow month for MINI, but they had a couple things I found on Google they could’ve shared with their fans like their box art ad that many bloggers discussed and liked. Or even more fun and consumer focused, someone posted on eHow an article on cleaning the interior of a MINI Cooper.

In Summary

There really isn't enough data to draw any major decisions or insights from this "glimpse" into one month of data. What it does show is how several major brands used their Facebook fan pages during a month of major automotive events and how their fans responded.

It is interesting to look at how brands are using the medium and what is resonating with fans. Topics, not medium of content, is what gets people talking. New vehicle information, especially about sports cars, and articles about fan favorites like a company leader fans resonate with (yes, I'm talking about Alan Mulally) do get people engaging with page content.

What I didn’t discuss here is the content fans posted to the pages. There was a ton of it from all brands. Maybe some other evening when my wife is out at dinner and shopping and I’m home alone with my laptop and nothing on but American Idol I’ll do some analysis of what fans are posting and how that fosters engagement. For now, I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of fan engagement in the automotive space.

Disclosure: I do work for the Agency of Record for Ford Motor Company. I am not directly involved with the Ford brand page's Facebook strategy. The data I looked at in this analysis is information anyone could have put together by just simply looking at fan pages - i.e. all data is publicly available. Also, this isn't a look at whether Ford's Facebook page is working or showcasing it as a model of success; rather, I'm just looking at 5 brands with roughly the same number of fans and how they engage their fan base.