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Showing posts with label Nissan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nissan. Show all posts

Monday, March 25, 2013

Video Recap of Geneva Auto Show Social Media Activations


I woke up this morning to a pitch on my twitter account.  Unlike most 'hey can you post this on your blog,' requests this one is pretty good.  There are some good examples of social media activations happening at the Auto Show including uses from Nissan, Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz. There's even a little dig at Citroen who allows for email sharing only on a build application they have on the floor.

Anyway, thanks to Patrick Sweeney for some good content.

Oh and here's the pitch (and yes I'm following @PJSweeney now on Twitter.


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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Cost to Not Ignore Nissan



The simple equation of Return on Investment (ROI) is a hot topic in social media circles as the discipline evolves to prove its value in the media and communications mix for business.  It's a topic that has spawned several conference topics, a multitude of articles and several books all vying to show how social media experts can realize ROI in their social strategy.

Within the ROI dialog is another set of value acronyms that try to show other forms of value other than direct monetary value. One popular one is Return on Engagement (ROE) that looks to show value provided by conversations and the establishment of deeper relationships with one's customers or prospective customers.

Thanks to yesterday's AdAge, Nissan has now entered a new acronym to the social value lexicon: Cost of Ignoring (COI). Erich Marx, Nissan's director-interactive and social-media marketing, shared "you have to be there [social media]. It's not about ROI, it's about COI-- cost of ignoring. It's too big to ignore."


Nissan's COI strategy is currently focusing on five vehicle launches in the next 15 months, all of them to include a "heavy emphasis" on social media.

Ever since General Motors pulled out of a $10 million Facebook campaign, the marketing and investment world has been interested in what automotives are doing on the site.  I'm not sure the story about Nissan's latest Facebook activities is that different from what's been happening on Facebook for the past several years from many car companies.

Nissan will be asking Altima fans to share car ideas that might be implemented in a future product and recently they did an essay contest where winners were selected for a drive event at Nissan's proving grounds.

Which brings us back to COI.

Any idea what the equation is for Cost of Ignoring? Perhaps it's something like Cartman's equation for gold.




[Source]: AdAge "Nissan Looks to Facebook to Help Launch Five New Models"



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Monday, July 11, 2011

Looking Into the Share of Voice of Volt and LEAF



This blog has followed a lot of the marketing efforts of two very compelling vehicles from the past several years: The Chevy Volt and the Nissan LEAF. Both cars are currently taking charge (pun intended) in the battle for green bragging rights with consumers and now Nissan has thrown a new punch at its Chevy competitor.

The new ads feature life with gasoline fueled appliances. The ads look into the continued dependence of gasoline engines as an old technology that is far behind the times, of course most of Nissan’s own portfolio of vehicles are hence old technology, but this is about green bragging rights and Nissan showcasing its competitive advantage.

Chevy has ensconced its Volt as a fighter of “range anxiety.” Range anxiety is the uneasy feeling that one’s all-electric vehicle may run out of charge before reaching the owner’s destination. Chevy has a backup gas engine to avoid such moments of concern, of course that’s pretty expensive backup plan but thankfully both the Volt and LEAF gain from current $7,500 government incentives to offset costs.

I wanted to take a look at how performance for both of these vehicles is doing online and worked with some great people from MutualMind here in Dallas who ran some social media analytics against the two cars for the week of May 29 - June 4, just to get a peek at what is going on in the social conversation.


IMG 1: Brand Hits refer to the Nissan LEAF, Competitor Hits to the Chevy Volt



It’s interesting to see they are both neck and neck as far as coverage, mentions of the two vehicles are with the Nissan LEAF having a slight edge, but that may be due mostly to the new ad campaign that is gaining some visibility internationally since it is creatively similar to a Renault ad running in Europe.





Sentiment is where the data gets a bit more interesting. Negative sentiment for the Volt is almost two times higher than it is for the LEAF, but that’s only half of the story. Positive sentiment is 34% higher with Volt than LEAF. What's this tell us? At least in social media conversation, Volt is a more polarizing vehicle meaning people are either defending it or criticizing it.

There are some rumors circulating around GM doing an all-electric Volt (GM has denied this.) It’s highly doubtful GM would use the same vehicle name (or even the same brand Chevy) to compete more directly with Nissan’s LEAF and Ford’s coming Focus EV. Like the hybrid market, the electric-vehicle (EV) market is sure to get very competitive and not be as simple as evaluating two primary competitors.

For now though, it is interesting watching these two solutions from two big brands battle for the hearts and minds of the green crowd as we move into the Post-Prius green vehicle movement.

Later this week I'll be sharing some of my personal thoughts on the Chevy Volt after driving one several days.

Thanks to Babar Bhatti from MutualMind for providing me with some great data. For more information, please contact:






Company: Mutual Mind
Website: http://www.mutualmind.com/

MutualMind is a social media management and intelligence platform that enables businesses to monitor as well as promote brands on social networks while providing actionable analytics and insights to increase social media ROI.

MutualMind offers a platform that allows users to aggregate and analyze feedback and conversations regarding their products or services on all of the major social media platforms. While many alternatives on the market today are limited just to listening or publishing, MutualMind’s has taken its value proposition further through the ability for users to actively engage with and manage the various social media outlets.

The functionality of this platform can be used for a myriad of business applications including: measuring market receptivity to products or services, tracking consumer or political sentiment, reputation/crisis management, generating sales leads, benchmarking versus competitors, and customer relationship management to name a few.


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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Nissan Blows Smoke at NYIAS Cars, Even Its Own



This is a great out of home billboard from the recent New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) done by TBWA\Chiat\Day LA for Nissan. It's a great way to make a strong selling point for the Nissan LEAF.

The LEAF, of course, is Nissan's all-electric vehicle and while the rest of Nissan's own floor at the auto show blows a lot of smoke around, the billboard still makes an excellent point about what differentiates the LEAF from competitors, including its strongest competitor right now the Chevy Volt. The Volt still has a gasoline engine and is not a full-EV (Electric Vehicle) so the point is still a valid one as these two battle it out.

Nice work here and thanks to AdLand.tv for blogging about it. Credit goes to this post.


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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

After Losing Car of the Year, Nissan Promotes a Tweet



So you didn't win the big award especially after losing to your main rival. It isn't the best feeling. In this situation, Nissan LEAF lost to the Chevy Volt for North American Car of the Year at the North American International Auto Show but that didn't stop Nissan from promoting what they did win.

Today on Twitter there is a promoted tweet: "Nissan LEAF" that promotes their winning the Eco Car of the Year at NAIAS. There is nothing wrong with promoting this tweet and getting the word out. Nor is there anything wrong with the Eco Car of the Year award, I'm sure it's an honor.

I just wonder if it's a little sad after losing the big award to have to promote a tweet to get people to notice you did win something. After all of the press coverage of Chevy Volt winning Car of the Year on Monday, perhaps Nissan felt a bit left out and wanted to share they didn't walkaway empty handed.

Lastly, I would've never known they won if it wasn't for the promoted tweet so it definitely served its purpose.


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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Consumer Electronics Show, Different Kind of Auto Show



Unfortunately I missed this year’s North American International Auto Show, also known as NAIAS, after attending it every year since 1997. Fortunately, there was another “auto show” going on the week before in Las Vegas. Did I say auto show? Oh I meant International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) where they show off a lot of technology and some of it featured on four wheels. Ford and Audi both keynoted at the show. Nissan had a local LEAF drive and Automotive Rhythms hosted a Nissan LEAF “Electric Party” at The Palms. Nvidia brought the Tesla Model S for a quick show-and-tell. There was even an in-vehicle technology track for those who wanted to know more about the latest automotive technology.


I spent some time at the show watching Audi’s keynote. They came with their R8 E-Tron Spyder Concept and the Audi A7L.

Audi showcased their relationship with graphics chip maker Nvidia Corporation. “German engineering meets Silicon Valley,” Audi CEO Rupert Stadler shared with the crowd of a couple hundred people who watched him roll out onto stage in the revised E-Tron concept.

Nvidia founder and CEO Jensen Huang joined Stadler on stage where they shared the latest Navigation system and coming in-dash LCD instrument panel. The graphics definitely wowed the crowd and showcased how the merging of technology and automotive engineering can come together to really impress an audience who can respect what it takes to make such an impressive computer on wheels.

CES even had an automotive reveal at the show – The Ford Focus EV. My flight left right as Ford’s Alan Mulally took the stage to reveal the new electric Focus. Ford made a big splash at last year’s CES with the debut of their MyFord and MyLincoln Touch systems.

It may not be as comprehensive as an auto show, but CES is finding its own niche in the automotive world. Now next year if only I can find a way to get into the Automotive Rhythm’s party and better plan my travel to stay around to hear Mulally speak, I won’t feel so bad missing NAIAS again.


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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Facebook and the Death of Micro-Site



There is a move in digital marketing to replace the micro-site with a Facebook fan page. The latest casualty is the Nissan Master the Shift lifestyle marketing campaign.

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while know this campaign since I previously covered it. It has been around for over 2 years. Nissan has done a great job with the email marketing efforts for the campaign where they are constantly giving away free sports related equipment to contest entrants. Regular email communications are sent as new content is added and contest prizes are released.

Basically, the program is a lifestyle marketing effort linking the passions of running, cycling, and yoga featuring three key personalities: Lance Armstrong, Ryan Hall, and Tara Stiles. The experience includes several videos showcasing different exercise and training tips while also promoting Nissan vehicles, the Nissan Altima was the lead vehicle for two years but now it’s been replaced by the Nissan LEAF.

This year Nissan shifted (pun intended) their micro-site to Facebook where all of the prior website’s content went into various Facebook tabs. This worked pretty well for the athlete content as each person has their own tab and video views seem decent; though, it’s tough to truly gauge as I’m not sure how much advertising was done to drive people to the Facebook page. Also, is some video views were probably done through YouTube and Google search, not all entirely through the Facebook experience.


One wonders though if the move to a Facebook fan page is a better, more effective, decision than keeping the micro-site.

The most significant issue I can see from the Nissan Master the Shift change is how buried the vehicle content is now. One can only get to the vehicle information using the Favorite Pages section of the Facebook fan page. The vehicle content really gets lost in the new experience, but this may be a result of the campaign’s goals having to do more with contest entries (the entry form is the first thing that shows up when one clicks an ad) and driving people to the unique content created for each of the athletes tend to be more primary objectives.

Another concern with moving to Facebook is that the user now has several interruptions that never existed with a micro-site. For instance, if a friend on Facebook initiates a chat, Nissan could lose that person’s attention. Also, any status update or new message information while on Facebook could further distract the visitor. There is of course just the fact that one is on Facebook and may simply and easily return to their Facebook news feed. The usability, call-to-action person in me questions how so many other clicks can interrupt the experience and thus lose the person Nissan is trying to reach.


The whole change from micro-site to Facebook fan page is an experiment. I would love to see how well the change is for Nissan, but without any primary data analytics it’s difficult to assess the strategic decision, but it’s an easy realization for the Nissan team as they can see if their content is getting a higher engagement rate by moving to Facebook.

Nissan is also launching an 18 stop event marketing campaign, as detailed here (though the story incorrectly says the Master the Shift campaign "began in April.") Getting out to events is a great way to reach this target consumer. It also provides another way, besides banner ads, to get the word about Nissan's working with these athletes and an additional way to promote their Facebook fan page.


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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Showcase Your Auto Enthusiast Prowess Win a NISMO



Nissan is appealing to their enthusiast target customer in its latest contest. The NISMO 370Z Sports Car Enthusiast Challenge & Sweepstakes does this in a fun and unique way by having contestants take a quiz for an opportunity to get more entries to win a 2010 Nissan 370Z NISMO sports car.

The contest goes through June 28, 2010 and to date has 44,388 contestants having played the game since early April. Participants get entries to win by correctly answer questions of a per day 3 question quiz, by simply returning to the site and entering their email, and can also gain more entries by sharing the site with up to 3 of their friends for up to 3 additional entries.

The share with your friends to get more entries to win is the first time I've seen an automaker incentivise contest sharing by giving a reason for people to share: more entries to win. I've never really understood sharing a contest site with others because doesn't more participants equal a worse chance to win? Here Nissan battles that issue by giving a bonus entries to the person doing the share.

Quiz questions are very effective here as the questions build more knowledge about the Nissan 370Z NISMO. It's a great way to increase interest in the vehicle to an enthusiast culture who cares about the detailed specifications of the sports car.

The site also links out to the Nissan site where contestants can choose from a variety of exit paths specific to where they are in their own shopping or interest path.

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jeep and Nissan Take to the Streets of New York



With Day Two of the New York Auto Show, there were a couple of public street installations out in New York. The first was a giant sand pit erected by the Jeep marketing team for a 7am five person dig to see who from Jeep’s Tweet-to-Win Twitter contest would find a small Tiki Idol and win a Jeep Wrangler Islander edition. The other installation comes from the Nissan marketing team to promote their Journey to Zero website.

I decided to follow the Jeep contest thanks to a web link they provided to watch the event on a live web feed. Unfortunately, I had to create an account to view the feed and there was no chat offering, which has become pretty standard for live webcast events. Also, it was unclear how many people watched the live feed but at 7am and with few people at the live event, besides some media and a bunch of Jeep PR people it was probably a small gathering online too, not that any event like this attracts a lot of people for any brand.

The video with the most views from the dig on Jeep’s YouTube channel had 80 views when I looked late this afternoon. Though, they did get some nice coverage from the Detroit Free Press and the Naples News too.

The bigger news from Jeep is that this was the kickoff of their next giveaway. Mike Manley, President and CEO of the Jeep brand, mentioned at this morning’s event that Jeep is giving away three more Jeep Wrangler Islander Editions as they place three Tiki Idols in hidden spots across the United States. Tips to where they are will be made available through a site he said was live this morning, unfortunately the JeepTikiHunt.com site is still not live and I will continue to check it to see how the site is laid out and communicates the contest. So stay tuned for an update on that.

Environment to be Saved By Zero

Nissan, however, has their website live for the Journey to Zero marketing campaign. This is in alignment with Nissan’s coming LEAF all electric vehicle that is changing the mobility equation. Visitors can get to the LEAF U.S. and Japanese websites through the About section of this campaign site.

The site features TED organizer and speaker Richard Saul Wurman. Content is all about a world with zero CO2 emissions and what that means to global environmental impact.

This one completely missed my radar even though I’ve been to the Nissan LEAF website, I’m part of the email curriculum for the campaign, and belong to their Facebook and Twitter communities. I’m really not sure how one finds out about this effort and judging by the views on the campaign’s YouTube Channel, not many others found out about it either; though, a Fast Company blogger did. Perhaps more will get to know about it as they wonder the streets of New York where Nissan has several rows of front and back seats ironically lined on a city bike path with a sign promoting the Journey to Zero message.

Looking at the web experience the campaign was probably marketed to niche creatives and greens who might have the patience to put up with the frustrating web experience that causes the page to float everywhere as one’s mouse is moved across the page. The navigation also is hard to use as it appears and disappears quickly if one doesn’t hold one’s mouse to the most left area of the page.

Fortunately some people did take the time to use the site and even enter a contest called “Inspired by Zero” that had artists submit works to express the idea of zero emissions. Winners have already been chosen with prizing being a couple cameras and an Apple MacBook Pro.

The site also features some social media outreach functionality allowing visitors to add flair to their Facebook pages or images to their Twitter profiles. One can even create their own poster to save and email to all their friends.

I wonder if anyone actually did any of this? It all goes back to consumer value and the site's social graffiti really doesn't have much of a benefit beyond promoting the Nissan site, which is really to Nissan's benefit not the site visitor's benefit.

Seeing how little was done to promote this site it and the effort launched over three months ago without much fanfare, maybe Nissan is now trying to breathe some life into the effort on the trendy streets of New York City causing the hip the take notice of how the LEAF is environmentally acceptable for our world.

- Photo of Journey to Zero seats on streets of New York City used by permission from AsianMartin.com
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Competitor Websites Respond to Toyota Recall Woes



Toyota is gearing up for a March rebound with 0% financing and aggressive lease pricing after taking a 9% hit in year-over-year sales last February due to their very public recalls. Meanwhile everyone is trying to capitalize on Toyota's quality troubles. Late night sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live poked fun at Toyota's issues by putting two people in an unattended accelerating Toyota Prius with the fake ad saying "Ford: We make hybrids too."

Comedic marketing spoofs aside, it is interesting to see how Toyota's competitors are responding to the recalls at their manufacturer websites.

The strongest marketing message comes from General Motors. For example, their Chevy homepage features a promotion tile reading "Special information for Toyota owners/lessses" that is in the most prominent position in the promotion banner ribbon on the page (I say most prominent because users tend to click mostly on links to the far the left as American consumers read left to right.)

Ford also features a nod to the Toyota quality issues but in a more tempered way by promoting a quality claim the brand has been using since last year after a major quality report put Ford on par with Toyota and Honda. The message is more about Ford and less about their competitor Toyota. The promo reads "Learn more about why Ford quality can't be beat by Honda or Toyota."

The only other manufacture website I found promoting a strong quality message on their homepage is Hyundai. Hyundai uses an image from their recent Sonata campaign, "Hyundai Quality: Hyundai Held to a Higher Standard." This approach uses no competitor call-outs, but it certainly can be read as a strategic message to appeal to people cross-shopping Hyundai with Toyota.

The home teams in Japan - Honda, Mazda, and Nissan - make no mention of quality or Toyota on their home pages. Seems local support is strong for the time being.
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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Top 10 Automotive Marketing Efforts of 2009

Well here it is my take on the expected, every blog and news source is doing it - Top 10 List. I looked at marketing efforts across TV, print, events, and digital to come up with ten U.S. marketing implementations that caught my eye. They did for a variety of reasons and yes I know the list isn't perfect and I could have added or removed some things in here.

I also would've included more Ford, Lincoln and Mercury efforts but did not do so because I didn't want to come across as being too self-promoting, besides, others will certainly talk about some of the great stuff we did this past year; though, there was one marketing event I just couldn't avoid talking about.

The Top Ten:


10. MINI Motor-Tober (link)



I had a hard time finding ten automotive marketing efforts that really stood out in 2009. A few efforts really standout while other ideas could exist in a Top 10 list or not. This set of banner ads from MINI during the month of October really impressed when few were able to capitalize on a particular holiday. In fact, many of the holiday ads right now are so uninspiring: red bows, snowflakes, and snow-caped mountains. Yawn.

Last October MINI got it right by running several banner ads that played on the “face” of the MINI Cooper’s front fascia. Their campaign extended across mediums into TV, national radio and of course online. The ads show how an automotive company can have fun with holiday-focused campaigns while maintaining the brand’s integrity and spirit.

9. Audi BMW Billboard War (link)



If you are a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I’m a bit of a BMW fan. I’m honestly trying to stay as objective as possible and almost didn’t include this bit of copy-writing back-and-forth, but it caught the attention of a many online and even the New York Times.

Audi ran a billboard in Southern California reading “Your move BMW” with an image of their very impressive A5 coupe. The local BMW dealership, Santa Monica BMW, retaliated by buying the billboard across the street reading “Checkmate” with an image of the new BMW M5 coupe. Audi soon answered back by changing their A5 billboard to a R8 with the lame less effective "Time to check your luxury badge. It may have expired" billboard, but by this time the joke was over and BMW had clearly won the copy-writer race.

What this demonstrates is how foolish ads are when you bring in your competitor. By acknowledging BMW, the Audi A5 ad had made it easy for BMW to mock the comparison. Even without the mocking billboard, BMW still won because Audi was running an ad that made you think, “what does BMW have that has Audi so concerned?”

This is an approach similar to what GM is doing with their “May the Best Car Win” campaign and with the Buick LaCrosse campaign that is very openly challenging Lexus. I’ve heard several podcasts, read many articles, combed quite a few forums and what seems to be happening is that Honda and Toyota owners are all laughing at GM for making small 1 or 2 MPG wins over a competing Honda or Toyota model only to reinforce their current ownership decision because the real win is resell value and long-term quality. If anything, the GM spots are causing Honda and Toyota owners to mock the GM ads in similar fashion BMW mocked Audi.

The Audi BMW billboard war was just a lot more fun and showed how something as simple as a few well-placed words on a billboard can be more viral than any overly thought out video or social media campaign.

8. Volkswagen Meet the Volkswagens (link)



This is a fun ad campaign that incorporated the data from someone’s Facebook profile. It “illustrates the future of database-driven ‘smart ads,’” according to Rick Mathieson, the author of The On-Demand Brand.

The application did some basic word matches to determine which Volkswagen would be best for the person’s data it was analyzing. It was a simple, interesting way to connect a consumer with a VW product that they may not have considered. I think what was most interesting is that the application showcased how Facebook data could connect with a company’s products in a non-intrusive way.

Unfortunately, the application never said why a Passat CC is right for me. But if I was going to buy a VW it was pretty spot-on, proving someone knew what to look for on my profile.

7. Subaru WRX STI Gymkhana Two Project
(link)



Ken Block, a world-class rally racer, showcases his rally Subaru in this video which promotes his company DC Shoes partnered with Subaru for the Gymkhana Two Project. The British auto enthusiast show Top Gear even picked up the Ken Block buzz when they had Ken showcase his rally skills on a recent episode.

This video is quite possibly the best cross-promotional marketing I’ve seen. It gets it right for Subaru, DC Shoes and Ken Block.

What makes this effort so captivating is how seriously cool the stunt is and how it caught a significant buzz on the web. To date, the video has over 9 million views! Now that’s how viral video is done. Admittedly the video showcases the DC Shoes in the video’s beginning but it certainly demonstrates how uber cool a Subaru can be too.

6. Honda Insight Gig Ad (link)



The best line in the Honda Insight campaign is “the Hybrid for everyone” line. It quickly separated the Insight from its costly competitor the Toyota Prius. Unfortunately, the product positioning statement in the ads didn’t give Honda the boost they needed. Most of this is due to a poor product, not poor marketing. The product couldn’t compete with the MPG King, the Toyota Prius. Plus the Insight suffered from too much of a me-too Prius design that was based on the outgoing model, making it look even more substandard once Toyota launched its much sleeker redesigned 2010 Prius.

That said, the Insight’s marketing caught people’s interest with its below $20,000 pricing strategy and a marketing campaign that made the Insight look like a formidable candidate to take on its more expensive hybrid rival by showing hybids can be affordable, unfortunately Honda just was a much lesser car in what was becoming a crowded hybrid sedan market with the Ford Fusion Hybrid and the new Prius.

5. Kia Soul Hamsters (link)



An automotive brand hasn’t let a little creature define it’s product since the flop of “The Caddy that Zigs” when the Cadillac Catera TV ads featured Cindy Crawford and a talking duck. Fortunately, Kia avoided the pitfalls of cartoon animals and decided to go with head bopping Zhu-Zhu pets to go along with it’s “A New Way to Roll” campaign. The cute hamsters were an instant hit as many in the target consumer group, 20-somethings, enjoyed the hip hamsters.

The latest iteration is seen in a Kia ad featuring the Forte Sedan, Forte Coupe and Soul that features one of the hamsters plastered to a showroom window. It looks like the brand is accepting its hamster-ness. The delicate line Kia must watch for in 2010 is not becoming only about hamsters. It could really go too far: newspaper-lined floors instead of floor mats anyone???

4. Volvo XC60 Integrated Twitter YouTube Road Block
(link)



Social media was the buzz du jour in 2009 and it most likely will continue in 2010. One of the more intelligent integrations of social media, online media, and event marketing was this effort from Volvo during last spring’s New York Auto Show.

Volvo was promoting the City Safety feature of its all-new XC60 SUV. City Safety automatically engages the brakes if the driver gets too close to the car in front. It’s a bit of a complicated, hard to understand feature that is best understood through real-life experience. To accomplish this for everyone who didn’t run right down to their Volvo dealer to try it out, Volvo decided to have people visiting the New York Auto Show experience it outside of the show’s convention center. Once someone tried it out, they could Tweet their experience giving instant feedback to the world. Volvo incorporated the comments in a live feed in a banner ad they ran on YouTube for that day.

I’m certain that we will see a few other automotive companies emulate this integration as the auto show season kicks up here in 2010.

3. Nissan Cube Mobile Device
(link)



If there is one ad that really captures where the automobile is in the mind of Millennials, it’s Nissan Cube’s Mobile Device TV spot. The ad features a car that does not move and merely acts as a connection device for connecting with one’s friends, music and lifestyle. Everything moves around the Cube. The wheels are stationary. It is not about driving, it’s about socializing.

Nissan’s treatment of the car as more of a smart phone on wheels is quite interesting. It really says the car’s benefits to a person’s life is not horsepower, a growling exhaust note, or a sleek design. Nope. It’s quite the opposite here. Here the car is more about its connectivity to your life and how well all your gadgets interact with it. This is a drastic change in how a car is sold and I’m quite certain it won’t be the last.

2. Hyundai Assurance (link)



Ad Age readers voted Hyundai Marketer of the Year. The main reason is 2009 was a year all about results. A company that could maintain sales or market share was a winner in this brutal economy, but Hyundai did more than that. It was one of only two auto manufacturers to increase sales through all of 2009 (compared to 2008 sales.)

The most notable thing Hyundai did from a marketing decision was implement their Assurance program that said it would let buyers of a recently bought Hyundai return the car if they lost their job (a few easy to understand restrictions applied.) It was an idea born out of consumer research that found potential Hyundai buyers were apprehensive mostly due to their concerns of rising unemployment impacting them. So, Hyundai answered with this campaign that was further promoted during the Super Bowl in early 2009. The high-profile TV spot was a great way to get the word out and it kept Hyundai sales in the positive while most manufacturers were losing 20-30% year-over-year sales.

General Motors and Ford both came back with their own versions of the Assurance program but by that time most in the industry were talking about the latest sales boosting craze – Cash for Clunkers that would define the summer months.

Hyundai continued to launch all kinds of extensions of the Assurance program, adding $1.49 a gallon gas price for a full year and additional cash incentives. None of the other ideas caught as much attention as the original Assurance program, but that didn’t matter as consumers understood Hyundai had a safety net program for uneasy shoppers. The brands impressive results with great new products and timely marketing campaign kept one company in this industry from a negative year.

1. Ford Fiesta Movement (link)



I don’t usually add anything from Ford, Lincoln or Mercury to this blog, but I can’t ignore the Fiesta Movement and what it has added to the automotive marketing space in 2009. The Fiesta Movement is all about generating buzz, buzz, buzz! It did so by giving 100 “Fiesta Agents” a European model Fiesta for 6 months and letting the Agents document their fun with the car using YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, basically across social media. Agents were chosen primarily for their social media influence and creativity.

Why I think this is the #1 automotive marketing effort for 2009 is not about me praising my own client or marketing firm I work for; rather, this idea of letting influencers (whatever that means) experience cars in an unusual, very involved way is going to be the big idea for many campaigns to come. Rumor has it that Honda is already thinking about doing something similar with the Insight as is another undisclosed auto firm.

The attention Ford has received from the Fiesta Movement is quite impressive and sure to be copied. It was a great way to get the word out about a product that was originally almost 18 months away from debuting on dealer lots. In fact, the awareness of the Fiesta is similar to Ford’s Edge CUV that has been in the market for several years.

The only question remains is how will all the early buzz of the Fiesta Movement impact sales? Will people not see it as a new fresh car to buy after 18 months of promotion before launch or will the momentum continue as Ford intends as The Fiesta Movement Part II is underway right now?

Either way the Fiesta Movement will probably be one of the few if any campaigns our industry will remember 5 years out from 2009 and that is mainly why I gave it the top spot in my list.
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Monday, December 7, 2009

Is Chevy Dorking Up the Volt's Vibe?




First it was the announcement of 230 MPG with a giant happy face outlet plug. Now it's a campy, Suzanne Vega sounding song with a lot of whistling that is promoting GM's buzz workhorse - the Chevy Volt.

Electric Vehicle (EV) technology is not easy to explain and is definitely creating a lot of confusion as companies promote ridiculous MPG claims and even crazier torque claims.
"Our goal is to craft that education in a manner that is family friendly (as it should be because we are America’s original mass /heart brand), entertaining and simple to understand for a rather sophisticated product.

A Volt song helps us to achieve those objectives. 'Chevy Volt and Me' explains what Volt is all about as a better EV in simple friendly terms," explains Maria Roher, GM’s director of global Volt marketing.
So let me get this straight. To explain the complexity of the Volt's three-phase AC induction motor rated at 120 kilowatts, or 160 hp, powered by a 6-foot-long, 375-pound array of lithium-ion cells mounted low along the Volt's floorpan requires a whistle laden, rhyme challenged song to help the common person understand what the Volt is all about?

Now what rhymes with lithium-ion? Conan O'Brien? Uruguayan? Scion?

I don't know. Seems to me the target Volt customer is going to be an early adopter and someone very knowledgable, well-educated and looking to better understand the details
of Volt's green footprint and technological advances. Perhaps a see through diagram of the powertrain from Popular Mechanics would be more helpful.

Nissan's LEAF effort is much more appealing to an educated audience looking for answers about this whole new Electric Vehicle segment. For the general population, Nissan went with a simple, concise video to educate new users about the vehicle.




Sure the LEAF doesn't get jammed in your head like a Lady Gaga song, but one quickly understands what it is, what it is not, and how it functions. For the more advanced mind, the LEAF site can be used to dive deeper into answers from the novice to the intermediate shopper.

Of course I understand the Chevy Volt song isn't the only effort Chevy is doing to promote the Volt. In fact, a lot is going on to share information about the Volt and the GM team has been releasing every minute detail about the Volt to keep the buzz going.

Chevy Volt has it's own presence on Chevrolet.com where visitors can get answers to several common questions about the car. A Popular Mechanics like diagram is also available to show how the Volt works. A few videos, images and even a full Volt Community called VoltAge is available to keep up with the latest on all things Volt.

I just wonder if a few of the marketing efforts like the "Chevy Volt and Me" song and the What Is 230? website will define the car in an unflattering way. And after the car sells to well-off early adopters, the Chevy Volt has to appeal to the general population in a cool, compelling way to make it as desirable as the concept car it originated from.

UPDATE: This is really getting weird. The GMVolt YouTube channel posted the "Chevy Volt Dance" from the LA Auto Show on December 13, 2009 complete with breakdancing.
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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Part I: How Cash for Clunkers Impacted 2009 Sales & Advertising to Attract Bargain Shoppers


There are a lot of articles out talking about a resurgence in automotive sales. As a recent LA Times article claims, “U.S. car sales are out of rut.” While there certainly is some very positive momentum that all started with Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) or more commonly known as “Cash For Clunkers”, Ford posted a pretax third-quarter profit of $357 million and General Motors has improved its market share for four straight months, the market is far from recovery.

All of this talk about improvements in the automotive market has left me wondering what is really going on, since we recently crossed 10% national unemployment and little has changed with economic fundamentals.

Did Cash For Clunkers wake people up and get them interested in car buying? Or was it simply a temporary spike where numbers returned to pre-Clunker sales? Or is something else going. Of course, I’m curious if the sales momentum in late 2009 is advertising or product related or a little of both or not really a momentum at all.

Approach

Most of the analysis done by the media is year-over-year comparisons. But if this year is highly unusual and looking back at the tanking of sales in late 2008 is naturally going to provide what looks like a surge in sales, how can we judge sales performance post Cash for Clunkers?

This analysis looks at 2009 only. I looked at sales through the first six months of 2009 (January-June) and then took an average of sales for those months to obtain an average month in 2009.



The chart looks at percentage of change from a six-month average, against the months where Cash for Clunkers was active and the following two months post the end of the Clunkers offer: September and October.

The data also only looks at non-luxury automotive brands for the companies included in the analysis. Why? The legislation applied only to cars priced below $45,000. Cash for Clunkers had a negative or non-impact on luxury car sales, so I decided to exclude it in this analysis.

One company that may seem odd here is Smart. I only included them because they were running a high profile $99/month Cash for Clunkers promotion. I was curious if it had an impact on sales.

Sales During Cash for Clunkers

Honda, Nissan and Toyota saw the most significant increases in sales in August when Cash for Clunkers was at its peak. Honda had a 90% increase while Nissan increased 89% and Toyota 78% over the 6-month 2009 average.

U.S. brands Ford, General Motors and Chrysler saw decent gains, but almost two-thirds or half the gain of their foreign counterparts. General Motors led with a 60% gain, Ford saw a 45% increase and Chrysler performed the lowest across the major brands with only a 19% improvement; though, many Chrysler dealers were caught without adequate inventories.

Truck sales were one area where American brands did fairly well. “The single most common swap - which occurred more than 8,200 times - involved Ford 150 pickup owners who took advantage of a government rebate to trade their old trucks for new Ford 150s,” according to the Associated Press.

Not surprisingly, Hyundai received a nice bump especially with some low-priced value alternatives for SUV traders with significant sales of the Tucson and Santa Fe. The Elantra, their economy car, doubled sales in August as value seekers sought alternatives to the Honda Civic, Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla which all ran into availability issues.

Smart saw a negative change in July as Cash for Clunkers started, but eventually turned positive, barely, as the program peaked in August. Unfortunately for Smart, their sole product only allows for a driver and one passenger and while the 33/41 mpg fuel-economy at first is appealing, it comes with giving up a lot like interior space and concerns for safety.

The program did what most expected it to do. It increased sales and spurred a lot of interest in new car sales. Who benefited more is really more of a political concern and caused a lot of discussion as it is easy to see the Asian automakers did very well from the program.

Marketing To Clunker Sellers

There were various efforts as automakers tried their best to attract clunker sales. Hyundai was the first out of the gate by offering trades a few weeks before the program officially started, good thing for Hyundai the government accepted the early trades.

Ford Motor Company went with their “Let Ford Recycle Your Ride” site that simplified the process for figuring out if a car qualified and then returned a list of qualifying Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicle choices. The site also included manufacturer incentives. All of this made for a very easy understanding of cost in a few simple steps. Ford was the third most popular car brand that consumers visiting this website have requested calls from a local dealer.

Chrysler had by far the easiest, most effective message with its Cash for Clunkers advertising. Their program simply promoted a “Double Cash” incentive where Chrysler matched the government’s incentive. If one qualified for a $4,500 rebate from CARS, Chrysler added another $4,500 to the purchase allowing for a $9,000 incentive! It was very impressive and a clear, effective way to communicate their offer. Unfortunately, Chrysler is suffering very low consideration due to its bankruptcy and ran into supply issues even if customers wanted a vehicle.

Toyota was “proud to be part of the US government’s program.” They promoted their most fuel efficient and most dependable car company in America message in the TV spots for the program.



GM did a Cash for Clunkers qualification experience from their corporate GM.com website. The site was similar to Ford’s where one entered in their car information and it said what GM products were eligible for trade. It however did not include additional manufacturer incentive information.

Smart, as I mentioned earlier, provided a very interesting effort to gain some interest from bargain shoppers. They promoted a $99/month payment when a clunker was traded in for a new Smart car. The low monthly payment was definitely attractive and looked great in large print. Unfortunately, many were quick to chastise the offer as it came with a large $6,667 balloon payment at the end of the 36-month term. The full cost of the deal and the limited appeal of a two-seat car that looks like a death trap next to a Chevy Cobalt, probably caused most buyers to look elsewhere.

It was no surprise to see the small car; fuel-efficient leaders gain the most from the program. Truck sales were strong which definitely helped the home team along with a couple shining examples like the Ford Focus which led the program as the Number 1 buy of shoppers.


To be Continued (Article should be up no later than Dec 2):
Part II: Examining Post Cash for Clunkers
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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 Kia.com. 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.
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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New York Times Gives Nissan LEAF Viral Push


Is the New York Times already bestowing viral marketing success to a campaign that hasn’t even launched?

I was left with this question after reading a short article about the Nissan LEAF’s “Viral Excitement”. According to the article Nissan has launched a successful marketing campaign by “enticing bloggers” with a video of the LEAF’s electric power train that is filmed in a style reminiscent of another viral video “The Story of Stuff.” Unfortunately, following a format that worked one time doesn’t mean viral success a second time. Isn’t odd to anyone that the New York Times thinks that having a video on YouTube will “entice bloggers”? How funny is that? Fortunately, the team doing this also setup Facebook and Twitter accounts, so that should help… uh-huh.

Seems the team at Nissan, along with their word-of-mouth marketing agency Zócalo Group, is about to embark on a promotion of the new electric car using social media engagement while driving across the United States, which apparently is the latest trend in brand experience marketing: BF Goodrich’s Nation of Go, Summer of Taurus and Scion x-Perience.

What’s most interesting is what’s missing – the actual car. Nissan will not be driving the LEAF so you won't see things like the cool interior (see image at right.) Really? Yep, they will be driving a Nissan Versa with the LEAF’s electric power engine inside. So probably beyond the usual sticker cladding that is sure to let everyone know this isn’t any normal Nissan Versa, it is missing the essential ingredient -- the actual car it is trying to promote. Looking at a Versa with a sparse engine bay isn’t as exciting as looking at an actual LEAF, which looks to be a an interesting design (see images here on Flickr.)

To be fair, we don’t know what Nissan will do at these marketing events and maybe they will spark a viral response. Hopefully the car will be a bit more than a Versa with a vehicle wrap and it remains to be seen how the marketing team will extend the US drive to a digital space. Of course the LEAF marketing team knows setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts and posting a video isn’t enough, but the New York Times thinks it is enough to build excitement.

Fortunately, the campaign has an excellent pre-reveal experience website at Nissanusa.com that highlights the vehicle’s vision, technology and battery design. There is a very interesting and well-done feedback mechanism right on the site that lets visitors ask a “Nissan expert about LEAF”. Site visitor questions are moderated and responded to openly on the home page. You can also look at questions by topics like charging, environment and features. It is a very cool implementation for a site where the product is a year away from launch.
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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Courting the Clunker Demographic


If you drive a clunker, you are the darling of the auto world, at least until the $1 billion runs out or November 1st arrives which ever comes first.

That’s right Cash for Clunkers was signed into legislation on June 24 and is expected to be active on July 23. The CARS (Cash Allowance Rebate System) legislation is a convoluted version of several European Cash for Clunker programs that have spurred automotive sales. The US has been considering adopting a similar program and finally passed a complex version that was signed by President Barack Obama.

With so many rules and restrictions to determine if your clunker is eligible, several automakers have rolled out their own initiatives to attract these shoppers and help them navigate through the requirements. The requirements include poor fuel economy numbers, model year of the car or truck, and the newly purchased vehicle must get better, though not much, gas mileage than your clunker. If you want the gory details checkout the CARS.gov website.

When searching Google, I received the following results with paid search results from GM, Toyota, and Ford. Mazda, Nissan and Kia also occasionally show up in the paid search results. Several OEMs are highlighting their sites as helpful ways to lead you into a particular brand’s products.

The most interesting marketing example comes from SMART with its full product line of a whopping two cars that fully meets the CARS requirements, no matter what clunker you are scraping to give you the maximum $4,500 credit.

Combined with SMART’s $99 payment promotion, the SMART Cash for Clunkers marketing pitch seems like a good blend of reaching cost conscious and green minded consumers. Of course, this means you have to be willing to risk your life driving a fortwo; though, this may not be a problem if you have been flaunting with death in a 1986 Dodge Omni with bald tires and a oil leak that leaves a trail from your home to work every morning.

SMART is also actively building up their contact database to keep interested buyers informed the minute the plan goes live. “Sign up today to receive notification of available inventory and details regarding smart fortwo express delivery to a dealership near you,” reads the SMART Cash for Clunkers page where people can leave their contact information to get a follow up when details come out.

So the battle to get those clunker dollars is in full swing and brands are trying their best to help you navigate if you qualify and help you navigator you and your clunker into their dealership.
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Monday, June 15, 2009

Nissan SHIFTs Focus to Passion Integration


Nissan’s Shift campaign has extended to some target customer passion points, particularly exercise in the form of running, cycling, yoga and strength. The content on the Nissan: Master the Shift site is divided by experts covering each topic, they include:
Ryan Hall – Olympic marathoner and record-holder in half-marathon.
Tara Stiles – Yoga instructor and founder of Manahattan’s Strala Yoga
Eddie George – Former NFL running back and Heisman winner
Chris Carmichael – Former Olympian cyclist and coach to Lance Armstrong.
Nissan has messaged the content with their “Durability tested to the next level” tagline and integrated into their brand-level SHIFT campaign. The Nissan Altima was tested through some durability exercises that emulate the riggers of everyday driving: potholes, road debris, and extreme heat; though, the last one we don’t really get in Michigan. Unfortunately, the Nissan content on the Master the Shift site is very limited and only show photos with descriptions instead of video content proving out the durability. This isn’t a bad thing though since the content budget needed to focus more on content for the passion interest and less on the car, since the car can be discussed on the Nissan site.

Upcoming marathon events will having Nissan_SHIFT booths that promote the Altima and the Master the Shift website. People at the event will have pictures taken, I assume the picture is taken at the Nissan booth, that can then be viewed online if they stop by for a SHIFT_performance Passport card that has an ID number for retrieving photos. It’s a typical, but well-done execution to tie event and online marketing together. Besides any online media that is bought, it is sure to be the other main traffic driver for the site.

I learned about the site from an advertisement on Runner’s World website. The online media is prominently featuring the expert appealing to the site’s passion interest, as opposed to pushing the Altima in its imagery. The ad is well done because it is a strong awareness buy that is better placed with a consumer’s interest and through a special interest “celebrity” and I really like this approach versus a homepage takeover on a portal site like Yahoo! or AOL.

This site has content scheduled through March 2010, must be when the budget allocation for the campaign is set to expire or get re-approved, if the program is working well. How do I know this? Well, if you click on various “Channels” within each expert’s Master class, you are informed that various channels are coming in July, September, December, and all the way out to March 2010.

Since it is a staggered schedule for content updates, it would’ve been a nice touch on the site to place a “Sign Up for Updates” button next to the Coming date indicators. Other than entering the Altima Sweepstakes, there seems no way to sign up for future content changes. This approach works very well in the GMC Professional Grade site that is on AOL Living. They actually let you sign up for a newsletter that sends out regular content notifications as things are updated. It remains to be seen if the Nissan contest will do something similar, but there is still no updates link or newsletter you can request; too bad, since it is a site that has a strong editorial content plan.

Hopefully, now that Nissan has my name, they’ll let me know when new content shows up on the site; though, I still don’t know if they are going to do that, even after entering their contest. I could definitely use the content, as I’m about to finish my first month of running. Yet, I doubt I’ll need the advice of an Olympic marathon runner. My running knowledge needs are very modest, but it’s great seeing a site that features running right alongside of my favorite passion – cars, even if it is a rather sedate Nissan Altima.
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