Showing posts with label Mitsubishi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mitsubishi. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

One Way to Get Your Dealers Involved

I’m guilty like most automotive bloggers of covering the larger brands more than some of the small players in the market. One brand that doesn’t get a lot of play is Mitsubishi. Well I wanted to find out what a Mitsubishi was doing with their efforts in social media and to my surprise I came across an unique way for the brand’s Facebook page to include their dealers.

Right now Mitsubishi is asking its fans to vote for the best dealer walkaround video. A walkaround video is where a dealer employee shows the features of a vehicle. The Facebook fans were asked to select from several dealer videos finalizing on three videos that are currently competing for a $2,500 prize to be awarded to the winning dealership.

Some of the videos are typical walkaround experiences where the dealer representative simply details every single feature, one with background Minnesota polka music. There definitely is a format to what the dealers were supposed to do here as all the videos cover every feature inside and out and run about 4 minutes plus in length.

Other videos are more entertaining with a bit more style, but still with substance. “Check out my curves and check out my lines,” sings one Omaha dealer who realizes there has to be some personality to keep people’s interest. Unfortunately like the more professional examples, none of the videos are that compelling and sitting through three 4 minute videos with basically the same exact content is a lot to ask, even from your fans.

I do like the idea of getting dealers involved in a real way with the greater Mitsubishi Facebook fan base and it incorporates fans thoughts through voting which video is best. Unfortunately, the $2,500 prize money that is offered is offered to the winning dealer and not a supporting local charity which would’ve had a more compelling appeal to a national audience.

Regardless, Mitsubishi is getting inventive with how to engage fans and finding ways to bring their dealers into the conversation. Sure this example isn’t going to turn into viral gold (total video views on the 3 final videos is at: 1,839 views), but it’s one way to extend goodwill between the OEM’s efforts in social and letting the dealer network reap some publicity too.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Will the “First Online Test Drive” Inspire At Least One Real Test Drive?

Mitsubishi thinks you will be interested in driving their new Outlander Sport using your keyboard. To do this, they have rigged a SUV so that one can control it online.

I kept seeing the ads on TV and received some email from Mitsubishi (I signed up for updates months back), but didn’t realize until I went to the Outlander Sport micro-site that the test-drive is being held November 1-10. To participate in the “Live Drive”, there is a sign-up form that has to be sent before November 1 and those who register will receive an access code.

The drive looks like it will be similar to a consumer ride and drive event where several orange cones will be setup in a large, empty parking lot. The new Outlander Sport will then be controlled by a remote control.

“Live Drive”, “Virtual Test Drive”, “Online Test Drive” whatever they are called it is not something new. Every automaker I’m sure has had a brainstorming session around how can they get consumers to experience a test drive using a computer. If you can’t get ‘butts in seats’ you might have some luck getting people interested in a vehicle while they virtually drive with butts is in desk seats.

Toyota did their version of a Virtual Test Drive with their Yaris launch site a couple years ago. Yaris let users control four different camera angles and added some hot spots to get more information while the car drove through one of five user selected cities.

The Yaris drive highlights key local landmarks for those wanting to learn more about the cities the car drives through. Everything is video based so it is far more passive than what Mitsubishi is attempting to do with the Outlander Sport. The interactivity of changing camera angles or clicking hot spots doesn’t feel like a test drive; it feels more like switching camera views on a video game, not playing the video game.

I have a feeling the Outlander Sport “Live Drive” will be more like playing the game than controlling viewing perspectives. It’s an interesting novelty experiment. Will it move much product? Who knows? If it is executed well then it may catch some buzz and thanks to a somewhat healthy TV ad buy from a minor automotive brand it should get a decent initial audience.

I’m looking forward to my online test drive and will send an update to let you know what I think about the execution and since my family is in the market for a new SUV, who knows, maybe I might go from office seat to car seat as Mitsubishi hopes.

More details from USAToday.


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.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand: July 2010

BMW and Audi are definitely proving all it takes to drive significant Fans on Facebook is a healthy marketing budget. Both brands had over 40% gains in July and both crossed the laudable 1 Million-Fan mark. Considering it took BMW years to cross the half-a-million-fan mark back in February 2010, where they celebrated the milestone by launching a YouTube video, it is interesting to see how ad impressions on the social media site can drive significant gains for aspirational, luxury car brands. (Note: the BMW Facebook Fan page was assumed by the brand in November 2009 where it had been managed and originally created by a BMW dealer in Spain. So, the first 1/2 million fans was dominantly, if not entirely, gained organically.)

Some of the smaller volume brands like Mitsubishi, Smart and Scion also experienced over 40% growth leading me to believe both also ran Facebook advertising this past month.

Toyota gained an impressive 38% fans in July. They were actively promoting their latest social media user generated content idea called “Auto-Biography” where the social media team selected a few stories to be “animated with the help of [their] artistic friends”… i.e. ad agency. This is interesting, as Toyota has been running several safety videos in response to their much publicized recalls.

Here we finally see Toyota recovering from the bad public relations and turning to the voice of the customer, which I think is a good move based on where the brand is today. Let the consumer voice showcase their passion for the products. It was a risky bet, except that Toyota approves every story before it is posted on the Facebook tab.

The only odd thing in July was a negative fan dip for the Infiniti brand. It would be interesting to see why this is happening. My guess is that some Infiniti fans are a bit turned off by the social media team’s wall posts promoting the Cirque du Soleil promotion; though, this guess is just that a guess. Looking at the fan page comments on the Cirque posts, several fans do enjoy the association. It still could be due to an increased frequency of the team pushing every marketing promotion on the page's wall. Without knowing the Facebook analytics and insight data, it is difficult for me to assess what is going on, perhaps their Facebook team should look at frequency of posts and also when the fan drop may have occurred since it is pretty rare to see a brand page lose fans in a month.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Automotive Vehicle Facebook Fan Page Strategies

If you are a regular reader of this blog you probably know I have been doing a monthly report on Automotive Facebook Fans that covers how the automotive industry is performing in fan counts and how brands manage to develop their fan base, usually through ad buys or Facebook applications.

What I have also been doing this whole time is tracking how some vehicles are performing in the Facebook community. What I’ve noticed is there are a few strategies companies have implemented to interest their customers or aspirational fans.

Here are some approaches:

Sports Cars: Most brands create a fan page around their halo or sports car product. For example, there is a fan page for the Chevy Camaro and Chevy Corvette but no official fan page for the Chevy Malibu or Cobalt. It is important to note there are often unofficial fan pages like this one for the Malibu. (Official pages are those managed by the brand. Unofficial pages are managed by someone not from the company.)

Campaign Driven: Most of the official vehicle fan pages were started at the time a marketing campaign was launched. This was true for the Ford Fusion and the Honda CrossTour.

Every Vehicle Gets a Fan Page: Acura and Volkswagen both apply this approach that no matter how few people want to socially identify themselves as a fan of Routan or ZDX, the brand has decided to invest time to curate a fan page for every product in its portfolio.

Product Segments: Ford Trucks is one example of this where fan pages are not divided into F-150, F-250, Ranger or other truck products; instead, fans of a Ford Truck can become fans of the entire truck product line.

Similar to what we see with brand Facebook pages, vehicle pages also get big spikes in fans from “Become a Fan” marketing campaigns on the site. For example, we see a huge lift of Chevy Camaro fans between Jan 1 to March 1, 2010 when the Camaro team was running ad units to increase its fan base.

An interesting example of fan growth explosion came when the Honda CrossTour was launched and the vehicle’s wall was attacked by Honda fans who were not happy with the CrossTour design and some nastiness ensued. This, plus a “Become a Fan” marketing buy from Honda to promote the CrossTour, led to a 6,000 plus fan page growth in back in August/September 2009.

What’s most difficult for vehicle pages is the ability to continue growing fans after a marketing campaign. Sure a vehicle fan page won’t see double or triple growth percentages without some marketing, but even maintaining the typical 3-6% organic growth rate we see on Brand Fan pages is difficult for vehicle pages, unless the car is a sports car.

Why is this so? My theory is that people fan the brand more than a car. Take for instance the Lexus IS-C. When it was launched the fans grew to 300+ through some advertising buys, but in the past six months they’ve only added 11 fans (349 in 9/14/2009 to 360 3/31/2010.) Yet Lexus has added 22,000 fans in that same time frame without any ad buys within Facebook; though, Lexus does promote it’s Facebook fan page in email communications.

In summary, if your brand is more defined by only a few key vehicles where people have a lot of passion for a particular product then vehicle fan pages make a lot of sense; however, if your brand is more defined by the brand image (e.g. Lexus) then creating vehicle product pages for every car probably isn’t worth the effort and added community management complexity.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Was the CTS-V Challenge a Marketing Win?

Let me get four things out of the way before my post-game analysis of the CTS-V Challenge as a marketing event. First, I love it that Bob Lutz challenged the media and followed through on it. Bob is a legend and this is why. He is a car guy through and through. Second, I think the event was a marketing success (you can stop reading now if you don't care why I think this.) Thirdly, the CTS-V is a fantastic car. Everyone felt it was competitive and it proved that, even though most race fans will tell you racing is 90% driver and 10% car. Finally, every time a marketing company does a challenge/race it is always tilted in the host's favor. It isn't about racing; it's about promotion.

Now that I have that out of the way, let's look at the CTS-V Challenge in full and most importantly understand why it was a marketing success and what other marketing teams can learn from it.

The "Race"

The idea all started when Bob Lutz made a comment at the press conference launching GM’s latest marketing campaign “May the Best Car Win.” Lutz “told reporters he would challenge anyone in any production sedan to a race around Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway and try to beat him,” What’s interesting here is this wasn’t an idea that started in a creative brainstorming to figure out how to market the CTS-V. This was Bob being Bob and later the automotive blog Jalopnik being Jalopnik.

The event probably would’ve never happened if it wasn’t for Jalopnik egging GM to commit to the challenge Lutz made. GM decided to come through, probably after watching some of the early buzz the social media was lending to the idea of such an event. Eventually applications were being taken at this micro-site.

In the marketing ideation for the event, some things were added that would later annoy most of those looking forward to the event. Sure Bob Lutz would race but GM also decided to stack the chips in their favor. The racetrack changed from Laguna Seca to the Monticello Motor Club in New York, the same track GM prepared for their CTS-V Nurburgring time. This is notable because it is a track the GM Team was very, very familiar with. Just like in golf, in racing, the more you practice on the same course the better you get to know it and improve your game. The other challengers definitely lacked this advantage.

Also, GM showed up with a ton of drivers ready to make sure if someone beat Bob that the CTS-V would still win. Most notable at the event was John Heinricy who set the Nurburgring time and was the ringer of the group. This stacking the deck with several drivers also became a way for GM PR to say things like CTS-V wins 6 or the 7 top spots in the challenge. Marketing at its best.

Where many enthusiasts felt slighted was that it was supposed to be Bob versus the challengers and when looking through the original intent of the challenge the CTS-V placed second to a 20 year old with a BMW M3. The driver, an unknown named Michael Cooper, who certainly had some track experience (everyone is trying to find out how much) but he definitely isn’t a professional or some sort of ringer like Heinricy or some of the others GM brought.

Blogger Michael Banovsky summed up the feelings of many enthusiasts when he wrote:
“While I feel that the CTS-V is certainly the fastest — or at least in the top two — of its vehicle class, the challenge and subsequent assertions that a lap time by a professional driver 'won' sour my opinion of the car.”

Measuring the Buzz

Now that a couple days have passed, it’s time to look at how the Challenge did in social media conversation.

On Twitter the most re-tweeted blog was Banovsky’s followed by GM’s own blog post on their Fastlane site. But a lot of blogs covered the event as we can see in this Buzz Metric’s report.

We can see in the graph that the CTS-V gets a decent lift in conversation with several automotive blogs covering the story. There is even some momentum going into the event. It’s also noteworthy to see the lift the BMW M3 gets and the unknown driver Michael Cooper receives from the coverage.

This is part of the problem with doing challenges. Sure your product gets talked about but so do all of your key competitors thus raising conversation for all brands. The side-effect is that everyone in the challenge sees some positive lift and gets marketed too.

Michael Cooper and his M3 also became the enthusiast favorite, after reading several blogs that covered the CTS-V Challenge, because it won on the merits of the original concept and, felt by many, to be the true winner of the event.

Chatter is the Goal

Edward Boches, Chief Creative Officer/Chief Social Officer at Mullen, shares a perspective on a recent episode of the marketing show The Bean Cast that “social media creativity is about inspiring others to tell stories for us,.. or to invite them to co-create those stories with us.” This is the new creative execution. Cadillac’s CTS-V is a perfect expression of this new creativity.

The Challenge definitely spurred a lot of conversation about Cadillac with enthusiasts. There was a lot of braggadocious talk from brand advocates supporting their own favorites before and throughout the event too.

Cadillac did miss an opportunity in the Twitterverse by not defining a hashtag for the event. Hashtags are a way to thread a conversation on Twitter that everyone can use to follow a topic. In the early stages of the race, Jalopnik defined the event as “#JalopnikvsGM”. Here is a tag cloud showing how that conversation went.

Eventually GM’s PR Team got the conversation more on their topic by using the shorter hashtag “#ctsv”. As you can see the conversation changed more in Cadillac’s favor in the following tag cloud:

There was also some traditional media coverage when NPR’s “All Things Considered” show interview Bob Lutz that afternoon and the NY Times blog picked the story up too. Buzz overall was very strong for the event and they did get a nice lift in the social media space making it a success by Boches definition of creative marketing success.

What We All Can Learn

There are several things that went right from this event. Sure it wasn’t really invented by any ad agency or creative ideation which shows that we can all learn a lot from accepting ideas that maybe spurred on by the blogosphere (GM owes most of this to Jalopnik for pressing to do it.)

What also went very well was the promotion of the event through social media, GM has a significant number of people on Twitter and strong relationships with several blogs to get the word out. Their team was tweeting when the event began at 10am and continued well into the evening after the results. Having a lot of bloggers out on Twitter talking about it helped even more since the idea wrapped a very vocal, socially adept community right from the start by challenging the bloggers. So they were part of the story from the start, whether they raced or not.

The event also provided a lot of different angles for the conversation to go. It was controversial and led to further coverage and conversation. One of the best write-ups came from the contestant from The Truth About Cars, Jack Baruth. Baruth shared his experience in details along with the excuse for his Audi S4 placing so poorly (poor production brakes) and GM being gracious enough to let him drive Lutz’s car. The whole idea of "ringers" at the event really led to a lot of conversation which really got everyone talking.

The best part is the product was front and center. Everyone who covered the event talked about the CTS-V and that's what GM really wanted.

What’s the Next Challenge?

So this got me thinking. How about a drag race with all of the Big Three Pony cars? Lutz can drag the Camaro SS. Ford’s Mark Fields can use the Ford Mustang GT500. Chrysler group’s Olivier Francois can show up with their Challenger SRT8. And this time no ringers.

Photos from the event were used with permission from (more photos from the event)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Is a Station Wagon Desirable If You Call It a Sportback?

Smaller brands lack the big budgets to develop creative-rich launch web site experiences, but this can be a good thing. There’s an efficiency that happens when constrained and that can evolve into some clever, effective content that a large budget, heavy Flash site may lose in all its clever transitions.

Mitsubishi’s team put together a few clever ways to engage site visitors with the launch site for the new Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback. The primary message for the vehicle is its versatility. To communicate what it can hold, site visitors can drop various “items” into the cargo area. You can move a bike, soccer ball, bulldog, or even attempt a pachyderm if you dare to see what can fit in 52.7 cubic feet. It’s a simple way to communicate versatility. The only issue is that the items themselves fail to communicate what space they are taking up. It might have been a bit more interesting to calculate down the amount of space dynamically showing cubic space left as items drop-in. It still does add some simple engagement that lets the user play around.

There are some nice touches that message the vehicle in some unusual places. For example, the site’s 360 has rotating messaging when you click different angles to view. Some messages promote the engine or stereo system while other messages communicate to the target consumer with “Hello sexy! Lancer Sportback’s European styling makes it stand out on any road.” Cheesy, sure but it also helps put a little fun into something as boring as looking at a side profile of a hatchback.

One of the disappointing things about constrained budgets is the minimal use of product feature communication using video or CGI demonstration. There are a lot of advanced features on the Lancer like RALLIART, their advanced all-wheel-drive system that isn’t effectively communicated in a small paragraph of copy and could’ve benefited from some instructional, detailed video.

The vehicle is being promoted jointly with a VANS shoes Los Angeles skateboarding event showing that Mitsubishi is trying to attract a young, active audience. As a former skateboarder, I would’ve loved a Lancer Sportback, if such a car existed and I wasn’t broke in 1986.

Overall the launch site provides some effective content and tries to find low-cost ways to effectively communicate the benefits of the Lancer Sportback to potential buyers.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Finally Truth in Consumer Marketing Research

I always thought the aspirational target customers developed during consumer research were rather two-dimensional cardboard cutouts of imaginary people. Fortunately, Mitsubishi felt the same and decided to create “Paper Craft” versions of their researched customers and pair them up with the appropriate vehicle.

Make sure you checkout the numerous examples on Mitsubishi’s site. See them here.

What you’ll find is an exhaustive range of vehicles, most found outside the U.S. market. They really are pretty cool looking things. I have young twin boys and decided to download a couple vehicle cutouts to see how they looked after following the supplied instructions. It took me a little while longer than expected to put a car together. In fact, my wife was watching me and pulled the paper and scissors out of my hands to show me how it was done. I was told I was doing it all wrong and that her years of cutting paper dolls was the proper training for this. I was more than happy to oblige as I was finding this whole experiment rather tedious. So, please find a seasoned paper doll expert of your own if you try this at home (the result is the photo above, yes that's my own Mitsubishi eKWAGON, the easiest cutout I could find.)

The email newsletter I received that included a link to the cutouts, invited me to build one and email them a picture of my completed model. I am doing so and will see what comes back (so stay tuned.)

I personally love the black clad, dark grey shirt couple sporting the Lancer Evolution as their car of choice. I don’t know what your experience is but most Evo owners don’t look this cool. They usually are wearing a Sun Microsystems white t-shirt, khaki shorts, and Nike shoes. Oh well, it’s all about image and who really wants a cutout of some 35 year-old software engineer?

I have to admit though I did enjoy playing with these and the kids really found them entertaining, even though, they couldn’t push a paper cutout across the living room floor at 15 mph.

I recall years ago that Mini Cooper ran some print ads with paper cardboard cutouts in Wired magazine that I quickly punched out and put together on my desk at work. Yeah I’m a geek. Better get back to learning Ruby on Rails.