Showing posts with label Subaru. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Subaru. Show all posts

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand: September 2011

 September was a fairly quiet month with only a few decent bumps in fan growth. I'm also seeing a lot less automotive fan driven ads from automotive brands. That's not to say the OEMs are not advertising on Facebook, it's just their ads are driving to the brand's website instead of a Facebook fan page.  Perhaps we are seeing a move away from the importance of fan growth to drive to transaction or consideration at a brand website that hosts content relevant to purchase.

It's been awhile since we've seen a brand lose fans in the span of a month. In fact, the only time it's happened since tracking this data in April 2009 is when Infiniti had lost fans due to their over promotion of a circ de soleil event they did one month where their sponsorship team posted too many photos of acrobats to the annoyance of its fans.  This September Kia dropped 8%, the largest negative drop we've seen in one month. There is nothing blatantly apparent why they had a negative fan growth, perhaps it's due to their younger audience who may have fanned the page due to their hamster Soul campaign only to unfan later once the interest waned?

Mercedes Benz is driving consumers to a social campaign they are running on Facebook. The C-Coupe Your Week contest will give 10 of its Facebook fans a C-Coupe to drive around for a week. Fans will also be featured on the Facebook page and given $2,000 and camera equipment to capture their week. Contestants must complete a form and upload a video by October 14. 

Subaru's 25% increase in fans for September was the largest gain. Their push was most likely driven by their charitable campaign Share the Love Charities where fans voted on several organizations resulting in Make A Wish as the winning charity for the Facebook fans. People who purchase a car between November 19 and January 3 get to choose where to allocate $250 to one of five organizations. The campaign resulted in 183,000 likes demonstrating fans responded positively to the effort. 

Finally in my evaluation of this month's fan growth several fan pages operated outside of a secured connection causing Facebook tab experiences unavaiable if a user has security settings active (use of https.) Odd because this is a fairly easy situation to get around with a good tab development team.  


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

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

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

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.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Subaru, the Muse of Advertising Inspiration?

I was on a plane reading the classic marketing book Where the Suckers Moon: The Life and Death of an Advertising Campaign when I came across a rather interesting remnant from Subaru’s brand campaign launch in 1992. Their big brand spot used a very familiar phrase, “May the best machine win.” Now where have I heard that before?

I had thought the “New” GM was borrowing heavy from Lee Iccoca’s Chrysler days, and I still believe that, but I never considered they were borrowing from Subaru too. GM’s “May the Best Car Win” campaign certainly sounds very similar to Subaru’s change of direction in 1992. What makes it even more interesting is that Subaru was responding to a down economy where “ostentatious living is out and practicality is in. And all of us, as consumers, are rediscovering basic values….” Sound familiar too?

It’s funny how history repeats itself. Hopefully for GM their luck with this language is more successful than Subaru’s eventual dissatisfaction with the campaign. Though, to be fair, Subaru never challenged every four-door sedan on the planet to a race. So maybe GM’s tweaks to Subaru’s concept will bear better fruit?

No Love

The other company looking back to Subaru for inspiration is Honda. One of Subaru’s main competitors has taken the concept of “Love” that Subaru used just last year and extended it for their own use in the “Everybody Loves a Honda” campaign.

Subaru’s tagline was “Love. It’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru” and it had an accompanying ad called “Love Letters”, the tells of owners thoughts about the brand. It’s definitely a similar concept to Subaru, but taken further by it’s competitor Honda.

Future Campaigns in Waiting

This got me thinking about what other ideas might be culled from Subaru’s past? Maybe there is a goldmine of creative inspiration that most consumers would never recall as Subaru’s that could be recycled by other automotive brands.

To help, here are some other campaigns from the Subaru archive that might inspire:

We Built Our Reputation By Building a Better Car

Inexpensive and Built to Stay that Way (use a cowboy too for extra-credit)

Subaru ’74 There’s So Much More

The Beauty of All-Wheel Drive

So there you have it. Copywriters can now fire up Microsoft Word and start playing with the words: change one word, reorder the words, or just expand on a concept. I’m sure there is a future campaign for someone else to execute. Good luck!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Subaru Outback Campaign Spoofs Late Night Infomercials

Subaru America is trying something new for its latest Outback campaign. The team from Carmichael Lynch, Subaru’s agency of record, has developed a playful way to have fun with the Subaru consumer’s rugged lifestyle, that apparently involves too much time in the mud.

The Outback Detergent website features a cartoon skunk called “Stinky” and includes a dealer giveaway of a free detergent bottle for test-driving the 2010 Outback. The “Stinky” cartoon character is reminiscent of Pepe Le Pew, minus the French accent and instead of chasing female skunks Stinky is all about helping Subaru drivers remove the stains from their cars and clothing after a hard day of off-roading.

Of course this begs the question, do Outback drivers really go off-road? For some reason I doubt it, but it really doesn’t matter. Owning an all-wheel drive vehicle is all about the “image” of taking it through mud pits, dirt trails, and climbing rock formations. I doubt anyone at Subaru really thinks its customers are buying an Outback to test the rugged wilderness. What’s funny about the Outback Detergent site is that it mocks the whole ridiculousness of it all.

The site includes a TV Infomercial spoof of ads like OxiClean, which makes you wonder if the plan for this launch maybe had some reconsideration after the OxiClean spokesman Billy Mays unexpectedly died last June. Regardless of May’s early death, the Outback Detergent video features all the elements of late night infomercials: overly excited spokesperson, absurd demonstrations, exaggerated situations, paid studio audience, and loud signage.

An Outback Detergent YouTube channel was created to house the videos. I’m personally not a big fan of campaign channels, unless there is a contest where users can upload videos to the channel or the campaign has enough content and an editorial calendar of additional content being released over a long enough time frame. Perhaps, the Subaru team will also release additional videos, but if this all of the content a channel is pointless.

Channels are more about relationships and continuing the conversation through future, additional videos. Campaigns are usually too brief to bother with creating a channel, besides people take the time to subscribe to your channel and then you add nothing to it, which frustrates those who took the time. It’s often just better to upload the videos to a Brand (ie Subaru) or Product (Outback) channel, not something solely created for a campaign.

The website features the Infomercial and a couple additional videos showing how people use their Outbacks and use them in dirt-covered ways. “Stinky” even has a page offering to help with stain removing tips. Unfortunately, he’s not as helpful as Tide’s website but this is parody.

The one concern with the website I have is while the whole cleaning dirt spoof is fun it does detract from what the new vehicle is about. After using the site, there isn’t much communicated about what is new in the 2010 Outback model and very few images showing the car. Vehicle strengths seem secondary and even non-existent in the Outback Detergent site. Leaving me to wonder if someone will really take the time to move to the standard Subaru shopping experience after being directed to the Detergent sell.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hell yeah! Changed My Mind About Drifting

Alright this isn't automotive marketing, at least in the sense of this blog's usual coverage. The content here is from DC Shoes. Yet, it really energized me to look into a Subaru WRX STI. Forget the shoes, this commercial is all about drifting as a sport featuring professional Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block.

What is drifting? It's basically burning through 50,000 mile tires in 5 miles. Checkout the following video for a high-octane demonstration. Gymkhana is a special type of drifting sporting event that is done in an open space littered with cones and obstacles. The Gymkhana drifting is featured in this video and truly showcases how cool and intense this sport can get.

Ken Block is a professional driver, but he is also co-owner of DC Shoes and Gymkhana Project is in its second phase with this latest "infomercial." You can see the original site here. The whole project showcases the power of Ken's skills but it is all about style and performance something DC Shoes wants to convey and something the Subaru Rally Team has no problem showcasing. And even though this about shoes, it's about the car too. The site features specifications on the highly-modified Subaru WRX STI. It really becomes a great showcase for the car.

It would've been nice some collaboration with Subaru, beyond what already exists with the clothing being promoted for the Subaru Rally Team USA.

The DC Shoes site is great at providing some extensible content through its blog which effectively communicates the events held around the Project. Access to the products being promoted in the DC store are easy to access and shown in clear, large images. The digital team also put up some excellent screen shots form computer wallpaper to keep fans in constant awareness of the promotion, well at least until something else fills the fan's computer screen.

The intensity of the performance video is very cool and something that was all the buzz when it was release a couple weeks back. I saw a coverage from all of the major and most of the minor automotive enthusiast blogs. Maybe next time Subaru can engage better with the DC content; though, to be fair that could distract from the DC Clothing being promoted. Done tastefully, some content extensions with the Subaru brand would be a good thing.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Auto Sales Forecast Hit By Analysts' Loss of Confidence

Automotive sales forecasts for 2009 are getting repeatedly slashed as consumer confidence plummets. New numbers from J.D. Power show an anticipated 10.4 million unit sales, that's 1 million less than the number they had going into 2009.

With the stock market falling to a number that is half from it's peak in 2007 and with mid-600,000 numbers of new people seeking unemployment benefits, no of this comes as a surprise.

From the Associated Press: "Automakers such as Kia and Subaru, which many car buyers view as high-value brands, could also outperform the competition, he said. Subaru is the only automaker that Toprak expects to post a sales increase for the month.

Sales of the automaker's top-selling all-wheel drive Forester, which starts at $19,995, more than doubled to 5,162 units in January." more.