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Showing posts with label Toyota. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Toyota. Show all posts

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Rapping White Parents are Viral Video Gold

I loved Toyota's Swagger Wagon when it came out back in 2010. It provided some much needed entertainment in the difficult minivan space where a lot of buyers felt they had to defend their purchase of a minivan against a slew of cooler SUVs.

That was almost 3 years ago and it's been awhile since we have had an automaker try the formula:

Parent(s) + Kids in diapers + Toys + Car + Casio Keyboard Synthesizer + Rap = Viral Video Gold

The parent rapping formula definitely works, Toyota's video has over 11 million views. Then there is a recent addition from the comedy team Bluefish TV that has over 1.6 million views.


Fiat decided to enter this genre and has netted near a million views already; though, it's unclear how much media is behind the success.

"Word to all the mothers out there. This one goes out to you..." reads the YouTube video's description.

It is what you expect a lot of hang wagging, complaints about spit up, rhymes about life before being a mom, a mention of snot, and an attractive upper-middle class mom doing the simplest rap tempo.



The ad, called "The Motherhood", promotes the British release of the Fiat 500L a car we cannot currently get in the States.  If you are familiar with automotive naming, you can quickly figure this is a Fiat 500 "Large" basically Fiat's answer to the MINI Countryman. It made it's debut a few weeks ago at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

I'm sure the 500L rap video will continue to gain views. Sadly this formula works. Fortunately, the world is ending tomorrow and with it hopefully the end of rapping white parents complaining about their trials raising kids. It was a creative and fun idea once. The copycats have been painful. Here, here to the Mayan Apocalypse!



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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Super Bowl 46 Automotive Ads: 3rd Annual ‘She Said, He Said’ analysis with Melanie Batenchuk


This is the Third Annual She Said, He Said with my good friend and fellow automotive blogger Melanie Batenchuck who writes at BeCarChic.

Overview This year’s Super Bowl was somewhat of a game changer for the auto industry. Much like the mood at the North American International Auto Show, the message last night was “We’re back! Now please buy our cars.” Twelve carmakers spread the ad love with 22 commercials aired before and during the big game. Hyundai and Chevrolet had the bulk of ads with four and three spots respectively, but that doesn’t mean they were the most memorable. Hyundai sponsored the kick-off pregame, where it aired two ads – one on the Elantra and the other on Hyundai’s 45,000 employees in the U.S. Toyota sponsored half time.

Needless to say, cars could be found in nearly every commercial break. And it seemed as if every car company was trying to out-do Volkswagen’s 2011 ‘Darth Vader’ ad, including Volkswagen, but none really achieved it. Honda’s Ferris Bueller homage was probably the closest to recreating the VW nostalgia among audiences.

#SuperBowl social media was everywhere The incorporation of social media was even more prevalent in this year’s Super Bowl. Last year, we saw the introduction of promoted tweets and hash tags, and SB46 included a plethora of such targeted advertising. While Audi and Acura added hash tags to the end of their commercials (#SoLongVampires and #JerrysNSX), others stirred buzz through promoted tweets and has tags.

There was even a legal spat between Ford and Chevrolet over the Chevy’s apocalyptic “2012” ad that specifically mentions a Ford truck driver ‘didn’t make it’ through the end of the world. A lawyer from Ford sent a cease and desist letter to General Motors on Saturday, February 4.


YouTube ruins ads for anyone paying attention If you’re like me, then you’re excited about the teaser ads companies release prior to the Super Bowl so you can get a taste of what is to come. All I wanted was a taste, but the week leading up to the big game left me drinking from a fire hose. Once an auto brand jumped off the YouTube bridge, the others tumbled like dominoes right behind. The pregame release of commercials can be fun if they aren’t the same ads aired during the game or simply share the beginning of the story and you have to catch the rest on TV.

The only car spot that we didn’t get a sneak peek at was Chrysler’s ‘Halftime for America’ ad starring the ever-gritty Clint Eastwood.

Now on to the good stuff… Below is the full ‘He Said, She Said’ analysis with Melanie for each automotive ad during the Super Bowl in the order that they aired. Enjoy our commentary and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Hyundai – Victory Lap Car featured: Elantra | Watch the Video

HE SAID: Another quick, simple idea with Jeff Bridges calmly delivering the punch line, must be another Hyundai ad? Not much to say here except I wonder if Hyundai could make a bigger splash by concentrating their Super Bowl ads into a single ad.

SHE SAID: Hyundai kicked off Super Bowl XLVI with a feel-good, patriotic ad aired during the pregame event. The familiar voice of actor Jeff Bridges told us it was a Hyundai commercial before ‘Stars and Stripes’ cued the adorable Elantra, this year’s winner of the North American Car of the Year.

Hyundai – All for One | Watch the Video

HE SAID: Hyundai went for short comedic spots, but for this one they shared how their corporate culture is one of supportive action complete with Rocky theme music. If I recall correctly, this ad ran between the coin toss and kickoff. The positive energy was fun but like many Super Bowl spots last night it didn’t generate much interest after its 60 seconds were up.

With only 70,000 views on YouTube, no one searched for and based on the comments a significant amount of Union Automotive workers didn’t feel inspired after non-union Hyundai factories were featured.

SHE SAID: The Korean-based automaker took this opportunity (and the ‘Rocky’ theme) to showcase its 45,000 employees in the U.S. and how the team at their Montgomery, Ala. Plant helps to make Hyundai the brand that it is today. Although the singing was a bit cheesy, I liked that this ad helped to dispel the myth that American cars are built only in Michigan.

Kia – Dream Car for Life Car featured: Optima | Watch the Video

HE SAID: Adriana Lima, Chuck Liddell, Motley Crue, and a stadium full of bikini clad fans… seriously what more do you want from a small automotive brand? It’s a fun ad with a lot of big production ingredients designed to hit all of the target demographic passions of its aspirational buyer.

SHE SAID: Kia plays up both men and women’s senses by giving us a look into their dreams with this outrageous ad featuring fairy dust, Motley Crue, a race track, a white stallion, and Adriana Lima (who made a second SB46 appearance for Teleflora). This one wins my award for ‘most fun’ out of the car ads. It pleased both male and female audiences and had a lot of great energy behind it.

Hyundai – Cheetah Car featured: Veloster Turbo | Watch the Video

HE SAID: Meh. They promoted this ad quite a bit using Facebook ads the entire week before the game. It too is highly forgettable and the concept while cute for a second lacks the fun of the other Hyundai spots like “Think Fast.”

SHE SAID: By now, I was ready to see an ad from someone other than Hyundai…and this wasn’t even their last installment. While the commercial was entertaining, I felt that stacking all of their ads so close together made it difficult for everyday consumers who were watching to differentiate between the company’s products.

Hyundai – Think Fast Car featured – Genesis Coupe | Watch the Video

HE SAID: Charming. When you can make a temporary heart failure charming, you know your ad has a great premise. This simple ad without a big name celebrity, Hollywood movie set, or show dog finds a fun way to message performance. It’s unexpected and gets a quick smile from the Super Bowl audience.

The ad is complimented by several online videos featuring the High-Powered Business Tips from the boss in the Genesis Coupe ad. Of course you’ll have to figure that out online and not from the TV spot.

SHE SAID: I had a small chuckle at this ad, mostly because it reminded me of a scene from my favorite movie “What about Bob?,” where Bob (played by Bill Murray) won’t wake up out of bed Other than that, it simply shows that the Genesis Coupe comes with good braking agility.

Cars.com – Confident You Watch the Video

HE SAID: If weird is your thing, Cars.com has an ad for you. Complete with Siamese bobbing goiter head.

SHE SAID: I really didn’t enjoy the Cars.com ad. Confidence doesn’t have to be so creepy. And it doesn’t have to sing either.


Chevrolet – Happy Grad Car featured: Camaro convertible | Watch the Video

HE SAID: And now for some MoFilms user-generated semi-professional videographer ad goodness that’s not from Doritos. The Happy Grad ad is great. A new sports car is something any grad would go nuts for if mom and dad presented such a surprise while still in a cap-and-gown. The reality of the graduate’s non-present is one we can all relate too.

SHE SAID: I didn’t really get this ad either. The parents really didn’t try to show their son the fridge. And who gives their kid a mini fridge for graduation? Much less one out on the front lawn….

Toyota – Connections Car featured: Various Camry models | Watch the Video

HE SAID: This is a continuation of Toyota’s personal stories campaign that’s been asking owners on social media to share their stories. It’s not a bad ad; though, like the Lexus ad it blends into the crowd. What’s missing here is personalizing the stories even more by showcasing the exact language from their owners and sharing posts the brand has received on the web.

“Connections” is similar to a lot of past ads by just about any car company. We all have a story to share from our car. Every car I’ve ever owned has some story. So having a personal story really isn’t that interesting so I’m doubtful this campaign creates any compelling positioning any against competitors. Sharing a story in and of itself is dull even if you do add a cute dog hanging its head out a window.

SHE SAID: Toyota tried to tug at your heart strings here , but I think this commercial would have been more effective as a regularly run ad. The Super Bowl is so cluttered with attention grabbing spots that trying to get people sentimental about their Camry’s a few adult beverages in, may not be the best approach (unless, of course, you’re Chrysler).

Fiat – Seduction Car featured: 500 Abarth | Watch the Video

HE SAID: I refuse to review this ad as a Super Bowl ad, it was launched last year and is not original to the Super Bowl. Granted it was the first time many people paid attention to the ad, even if they passively saw it before…

SHE SAID: This video was saucy to say the least. What can I say, sexiness sells. Any commercial that can get my husband to tweet that he wants to look at a Fiat 500 is a success in my book. Sorry dear, it doesn’t come with the model.

Audi – Vampire Party Car featured: S6 headlights | Watch the Video

HE SAID: A few people have asked me what do I think of the Twilight Audi ad. I felt it was more True Blood with the older vampires and cooler Echo and the Bunnymen soundtrack. Plus as one 20 year old reminded me they think Volvo when thinking Twilight vampires, since Volvo dominated in movie placements.

The whole Twilight, True Blood, vampire trendy thing aside the ad is a great example of taking a rather mundane product feature like headlights and making it compelling in an interesting way. Is it Super Bowl entertaining? Sure. Not every ad on game day has to have a dog or model (or soccer star) in underwear.

SHE SAID: This one actually made me laugh out loud, mostly because I’m not into all that Vampire stuff. Lots of people liked the funny ad and the hash tag they assigned to it (#SoLongVampires). This commercial was for those of us who aren’t in love with blood-sucking teen wolves. Unfortunately, the ad fell short of promoting a car. Who spends $3.5 million to advertise headlights?

Suzuki – Sled Car featured: Kisashi | Watch the Video

HE SAID: My choice for cutest dog ad goes to Suzuki for the Kizashi “Sled” commercial. It’s adorable heck even the human driver is adorable and isn’t that what great pet advertising is all about? Plus what else are you going to say about an All-Wheel Drive system that hasn’t been said or done twenty thousand times already.

SHE SAID: My first reaction was, “Suzuki has enough money to buy a Super Bowl ad?” After the initial shock, I then found this to be a witty ad. Glad to see the Kisashi get some love. Hopefully it’ll translate into some U.S. sales for the company.

Chevrolet – Stunt Anthem Car featured: Sonic | Watch the Video

HE SAID: One creative idea that always gets tiring is the “let’s break a world record or be the first at X.” You know the brainstorming has hit a wall when your creative team starts Googling to see if anyone has skydived a car before.

That said, it’s a well done version of a rather boring concept. Of course the well chosen music track "We Are Young" by Fun, ft. Janelle Monae helps dramatically.

SHE SAID: Many of my friends really liked the adventurous spirit of the Sonic ‘stunt’ ad. I thought it was pretty rad and catered to the X-games demographic. I’m not running out to get a Sonic anytime soon (because I still think it’s a glorified Aveo), but others have recommended the sporty compact.

Bridgestone – Performance Football Watch the Video

HE SAID: More tire tread balls. I'll give them an A for consistency and a C for maintaining anyone's interest.

SHE SAID: Much like the Patriots’ final play, this ad from Bridgestone was a great idea but was poorly executed. (Sorry, Pats fans.)



Lexus – Beast Car featured: GS | Watch the Video

HE SAID: Nice grille. Now is a good time to go get another beer before the game comes back on.

Honestly, it’s a good update to a rather bland design and in person I love the new GS I saw at the Panasonic booth while at CES last month, but this ad is entirely forgettable and nothing is worse than a forgettable Super Bowl commercial you just paid $3.5 million for.

SHE SAID: I actually liked the teaser ad better because it created some suspense and excitement. I would have like to have seen an extended version that showed the some of the performance aspects of this Lexus classic.

Cadillac – Green Hell Car featured: ATS | Watch the Video 

HE SAID: Another 3-Series challenger. Welcome Cadillac, join the crowd and thanks for the cliche track porn driving around Nuremberg. Can we all agree as an industry that Nuremberg shall never be used in another ad campaign or PR stunt? It's as overplayed as Tim Tebow Internet memes.

SHE SAID: Sorry, but just because you hired German engineers and flung it around the ‘Ring doesn’t mean it’s a BMW beater.


Bridgestone – Performance Basketball Watch the Video 

HE SAID: Sleeping baby for the win! Not sure how a bouncing tire tread basketball on a wood court is similar to a pothole filled Michigan road on 19” performance rims, but I’ll admit I’m over thinking this one. Maybe it’s just because I don’t really care to make the connection between basketball and a tire’s quietness.

SHE SAID: Yawn. Nobody wants to hear about tire treads, we want to see it in action. Give us performance!

Honda – Matthew’s Day Off Car featured: CR-V | Watch the Video

HE SAID: One of my favorites as long as you overlook the sad notion that every child of the 80s high school playing-hooky idol ends up in middle-age driving a Honda CR-V. Then again many do end up in a basic, but nice car like a CR-V. Nothing is wrong with that except most of us remember the car aspect of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off as the beginning of collective our lust for a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California.

Of all the Ferris Bueller film moments in the ad, it’s not surprising we don’t see Broderick telling us, “if you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up” about the CR-V.

Oh well, it was great seeing a character we all loved return; though, Honda’s teaser made several think a new Ferris movie was coming, not another Super Bowl car ad. Guess we’ll all have to continue waiting for the full feature film of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off from Work coming to theaters in...?

SHE SAID: Ferris Bueller lives!...and he drives a CR-V. I liked how Honda brought back pleasant memories from a movie almost everyone over the age of 25 can remember (did I just age myself?). They did a great job recreating scenes of the original flick in such a short amount of time. Not sure anyone will be running out to by a CR-V, but there is a Facebook group pining for a sequel!

Acura – Transactions Car featured – NSX | Watch the Video 

HE SAID: This is the ad that crashed Acura’s website after it aired. I’m not surprised. Not because of the Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno celebrity effect. Nope. The reason everyone was rushing to Acura’s website was to see if they could afford the return of the much anticipated NSX!

What a beautiful car and a fun way to build excitement for the limited production release. Make a game of being first and isn’t being the guy on the block with the coolest car in the garage satisfy one of our most primitive desires? Plus this is one of the more believable celebrity fights to be first to own a car. This is the game of wealthy car enthusiast comedians than your typical Super Bowl viewer.

SHE SAID: The NSX lives!! And it’s really coming to production this time! I heart Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno. This would have been my favorite ad if it didn’t get released before the Super Bowl.

Volkswagen – The Dog Strikes Back Car featured: Beetle | Watch the Video

HE SAID: Star Wars has gone to the dogs. I ended up playing a drinking game with fellow #BrandBowl tweeters. Simple concept. Dog in ad = Drink. Thank you Volkswagen for the help.

SHE SAID: Well, well, well. VW actually released a teaser video and THEN a full Super Bowl ad that was loosely tied in with it. What a concept! This was a fun-loving bit that anyone could enjoy. Wait, is that the dog driving the Forester in that Subaru commercial?

Toyota – Reinvented Car featured: Camry | Watch the Video 

HE SAID: Some of the concepts here were cute and others confusing. Unfortunately the Camry didn’t look reinvented. It takes a pretty keen eye to see what Toyota has changed on the car this year. And with a typical evolutionary, not revolutionary change the concept of this ad falls short. 

Also what's with the time traveling baby that doesn’t poop and when it rains you lose weight? Neither seems desirable, except the no pooping part.

SHE SAID: I would definitely want to reinvent the DMV experience. The only thing missing in this ad and the other spot by Toyota was how they reinvented the Camry.

Chrysler – It’s Halftime in America Car featured: Various models | Watch the Video

HE SAID: I call this the Anti-Mitt Romney NY Times Op Ed Article Commercial. Sure it lacks the ring or sentimentality of It’s Halftime in America.

For a second year, Chrysler goes for the emotional up by our bootstraps brand messaging, but this time uses Dirty Hairy and fosters the strength of all of America, not just Detroit. It’s gritty, dark and strong just like last year’s ad but with a broader appeal.

Like the VW Star Wars ads, the Chrysler spot basically borrowed from last year’s success without an original idea. Instead it was more about building on prior success using a similar concept.

It’s not that I don’t like the Chrysler spot. It’s good. It’s just that I sort of saw it last year with Eminem and no offense to Clint Eastwood, but last year’s version was better. Besides I felt it was also so negative. Almost a view of America that is about 3 years old especially after seeing the improvements in the Unemployment rate and reduced fear about a massive recession; though, I’m by no means suggesting this economy is all fixed.

SHE SAID: This ad left me chanting, “Clint Eastwood for President!” For the second year in a row, Chrysler has seriously tugged on the heartstrings of Detroiters and Americans. There’s no one better to send the message of America’s true grit than Clint Eastwood. Although many people found this to be too politicized, I think it’s well timed. I liked how the ad didn’t showcase one car but rather bits of various Chrysler brand vehicles. Oh, and my favorite part of the ad? I didn’t see it before it aired!

Chevrolet – 2012 Car featured: Silverado | Watch the Video 

HE SAID: My favorite ad by far. I’m mainly happy to see the end of the world is less depressing than Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Now there is a lot of controversy sounding this ad today after Ford raised several issues with Chevy’s claim of their product not surviving the fake-pocalypse, but that’s an issue for PR and legal.

As an ad, it is well done and a great touch with Twinkies surviving the apocalypse for a bonus comedic effect.

SHE SAID: Drama! The ad was great, don’t get me wrong. I just think that it would have had a stronger impact if Chevy didn’t single out Ford in such a negative way. After all, Ford isn’t the only other automaker competing in the truck market. Disclaimer: The author of this post provides strategic communications services for organizations that represent the auto industry, including many of the car manufacturers featured in this blog post. The views expressed in this post are solely the author’s and were not solicited by any third party.
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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pregame Buzz



Last year Volkswagen had quite the viral hit with "The Force" Super Bowl ad.  Of course, many forget that hit required some media spend to drive awareness about the commercial before the big game. Volkswagen did several paid media placements including the homepage of YouTube.

The awareness raised by advertising assisted sharing dramatically, but mostly sharing worked because "The Force" ad was brilliant with its adorable use of Star Wars encapsulated in the eyes of a little boy playing Darth Vader.

This year everyone is replicating VW's strategy to viral success. Ads are showing up everywhere promoting Super Bowl commercials.  Facebook ads. Promoted Tweets. YouTube homepage takeovers. Emails promoting the ads.

Here is a list of the Super Bowl commercials having some pregame advertising to drive YouTube video views along with how many views they received as of Saturday morning February 4. Each ad had it's own amount of advertising dollars supporting it.


We'll all see a year from now if one of these ads can attain the viral dominance of VW's "The Force" which has 50,014,879 views after a year on YouTube.

Acura "Transactions"
12,417,801
Honda "Matthew's Day Off"
10,913,584
Audi "Vampire Party"
3,468,337
VW "The Dog Strikes Back"
2,984,829
Toyota "It's Reinvented"
1,601,559
Chevy "Happy Grad"
1,243,390
Chevy Sonic "Stunt Anthem"
465,503
Hyundai "Cheetah"
452,094
Cadillac "Green Hill"
199,803
Lexus "Beast"
140,886

For a full review of the automotive Super Bowl ads, stay tuned as Melanie at the BeCarChic blog and I will be doing our 3rd Annual She Said, He Said Super Bowl Automotive Ad Review.
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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Toyota What the--?!




There are some things I just do not get. Perhaps it's more about turning 40 years old in about a month or the fact that I haven't read a comic book in 25 years? Whatever the reason, the latest co-branding content marketing concept from Toyota makes no sense to me and in fact leaves a painful grating sound in my ears that is sure to annoy me for the next hour.
What I'm talking about is a video content collaboration between the Toyota Yaris and Marvel's What the--?! which is Marvel's self parody comic book.

Perhaps that is what's so annoying about the content. It is self-deprecating parody from the comic book company instead of someone else mocking them.  Add the self-mockery with some automotive brand advertising and you get something quite odd. Leaving one YouTube watcher to state the obvious: "I like these but kinda weird."

So what do you think?  Are you a fan of Marvel's What the--!? and I'm not the target here so I'm missing what's cool about this?

Though I do like their mocking of Cleveland (especially after Cleveland mocked Detroit.)


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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Toyota Targets the Backseat Driver



Here is one way to create early brand loyalty. Toyota Japan has created a game called Backseat Driver that gets your children involved in where ever you are driving and may be a good option after they've bored themselves of playing Angry Birds for the 1 millionth time in the car.

The application is available for download on iTunes.

To play the application you have to be moving because the app moves the car using your phone's GPS movements and when the car turns the car in the game turns too. I suppose you could walk your backseat drive, but sitting stationary results in a boring game.

Your child can even share their customized car on twitter, something my 5 year old twins will definitely not be doing.

It is a fun way to make driving a bit more interesting for your child and I can't wait to test how long it holds a 5 year boy's interest. We'll see.

Thanks to @SphereTrending for sharing this on Twitter.
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Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Few Automotive Brands Are Cruising Empire Avenue



There is a social network, or is it a social exchange, that is gaining traction after Jeremiah Owyang, who writes the Web Strategist blog, wrote a post a couple weeks ago titled “Empire Avenue Provides Social Gaming Opportunities –and Challenges– for Brands.” At the time of the article only a couple big brands were on the site including Intel and Audi, since the article Ford and Toyota have joined too (in full disclosure, so has AT&T, the brand I head social media for.)

What Is Empire Avenue? I’m going to let Jeremiah answer that one since he did such a brilliant job already:

“Empire Avenue is a social game. Each user is valued at a set share price around $9 “Eaves” (their currency) and the value will increase as others purchase their shares, or as the user does social behaviors on other sites, and also participates in Empire Avenue such as actions, unlocking features, or dividends from virtual goods or ownership in other members. As users gain more net worth, they’re able to purchase virtual goods, on a quest to be the richest player in the game. The net result? This is a highly addictive experience that is similar to stock market gaming of your own social network.”

Or if you want to understand the behaviors of a user on Empire Avenue, tech blogger Chris Pirillo demonstrates his enthusiasm in this video.


I should note there are two camps on what’s the point of Empire Avenue. One camp feels it is a site that evokes game theory and creates an interesting social dynamic for those who want to play the game. The other camp is more interested in Empire Avenue being viewed as a competitor to online influence ranking sites like Klout. This is the more controversial camp,, since whenever the word influence is evoked in social media circles everyone goes bonkers about what defines influence. For that perspective, checkout Stowe Boyd’s blog post and comments.

So what are the three automotive brands Ford, Audi and Toyota doing on Empire Avenue? Let’s take a look.

All three have their logos represented and have completed their page bios. Toyota’s bio is brief, “We are Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc.” While Audi brings some of its campaign language and promotion of other social website efforts into its bio, “Audi of America. Truth in Engineering. And now trading on Empire Avenue. Do you know #bolddesign? We're looking for Bold in your city. Help us build out Bold Design in America. http://apps.facebook.com/audi-bold-design/?x=tweet. The all-new Audi 2012 A7.”

Ford is the clear leader in the reciprocity behavior. As of this morning Audi has invested in 12 others on the site where Ford has invested in 118 accounts on Empire Avenue. Toyota who recently joined Empire Avenue six days ago has yet to invest in anyone. Why do I point this statistic out? It demonstrates a level of engagement. Brands, like individuals on the site, have a few touch points including shout outs on a person’s wall, discussion within communities, and purchasing shares in others. Buying shares back creates a conversation on Empire Avenue more so than say following someone back on Twitter; though, the concept is fairly similar. Here a purchase back is an opportunity to thank that person for investing in your brand and demonstrates goodwill.

The purchase of shares is a big deal on Empire Avenue, like stocks in real-life, investments increase share price and also demonstrates a confidence in a good investment. Brands that reciprocate back by investing in others create opportunities to engage. Consider the image at left showing Ford buying shares in others with another shareholder commending the purchase. Without buy backs, the opportunity for further conversation is limited. Sometimes these opportunities move beyond Empire Avenue conversation and into brand conversation about a person’s experience with the brand.

Recently Ford, the most active of the three automotive brands on Empire Avenue, created a private community for Ford Motor Company. It’s a new effort with only 11 members so far and we’ll see how it evolves.

A lot of things are evolving at Empire Avenue as more brands are joining everyday including Dell, Match.com, PR Newswire, and yes even Penthouse. It will be interesting to see if other automotive brands join, since Toyota joining last week no other automotive brands have followed Audi and then Ford’s move to join the site.

What are your thoughts about Empire Avenue? Do you think it’s worth the time of automotive brands (or any brand) to get involved with this rapidly growing online community/game/influence metric?

Also for some other perspectives checkout the following blog posts:

Ford's own Scott Monty talks about "The Gamification of Social Media"

PR Newswire's Victoria Harres writes "Empire Avenue Feels So Much Like 2008...And That's a Good Thing."


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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Toyota "Force"



I'm sure many of you remember Volkswagen's "The Force" Super Bowl commercial. If you do not, you can read about it here. You know you made an ad that resonated with the public when you get some parodies on YouTube. The best one by far is this Toyota example that brings a bit of automotive recall hijinks to the mix.

Enjoy.

Credit goes to @CGawley's blog post. Thanks Cameron.


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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand: January 2011



There wasn’t a lot of growth in January’s Facebook fan numbers. Perhaps it’s all of the ad agencies working on their Super Bowl ads. Many brands were pushing their vehicle sites and a couple of German companies were focusing on their USA Fan pages, instead of their global brand pages.

Both Mercedes-Benz and BMW created USA focused brand pages in 2010 (see the USA pages growth in the image below to the left.) Mercedes just completed a “Tweet Race” contest between 4 teams spending all kinds of money on celebrities, charities, providing luxury vehicles, and all congregating this weekend at the Super Bowl in Dallas, Texas. Even though it was a “Tweet” contest, Mercedes spent quite a bit on advertising the event on Facebook throughout most of January.

BMW ran several advertisements promoting the new X3 and the all-new 1M. The X3 Matchup was promoted in January ads on Facebook to promote their coming Super Bowl ad. Players match different images and watch for clues in the Super Bowl ad to win a X3 for 2 years and a VIP trip to their Spartanburg plant, museum, and most importantly their Performance Driving School. Facebook fans are asked to build a X3 where they try to guess the exact build of the one appearing in their Super Bowl ad. I’m guessing silver.

Toyota heavily promoted their name the “Prius Goes Plural” campaign after the brand launched several new Prii, Prius, Prium vehicles at the Detroit Auto Show in early January. It seemed as if every day Toyota had the reachblock bought on my Facebook’s Home screen. With all of their promotion, only one of my Facebook friends voted and I have a ton of friends who are car nuts and in the industry (661 friends total.) Sure my checking my friends against people participating is far from scientific, but it did surprise me when the typical auto ad on Facebook has at least 3 or 4 of my friends liking it. Voting of course is different.

An important note on Toyota’s Prius campaign, it didn’t drive fans to the brand’s Facebook page; hence, the measly 2% growth rate for them in January. Fortunately, Toyota has a pretty strong presence with their Prius brand and many in the industry wonder if they’ll ever move Prius off to its own brand. Perhaps with so many new models that scenario may be playing out.


Finally, the strongest growth came from Acura. They recently abandoned their separate vehicle pages so now whenever they have a vehicle promotion they drive traffic to their brand page. In January, they ran a promotion to their “Compete Like A Pro” contest for the all-new TSX Sport Wagon. What’s great here is that they grew their overall fans instead of just a single vehicle fan page so they can promote other products to those fans. It was a smart move for Acura and their growth in January shows how it helps the overall brand presence.



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Monday, November 8, 2010

Toyota Highlander Takes a Shot at Frugality



Jalopnik summed it up pretty well yesterday when they posted an article entitled "The Toyota Highlander Is Breeding Assholes" about the new ad campaign for the Highlander. It's a bit harsh, but it gets to the point and made me wonder if right now is the best time to be promoting obnoxious, stuck up children who look down on others in older cars.

The premise of the ad is that a child does not want their parents picking them up from school in an old station wagon. It's embarrassing when a dad pulls up in a Buick Roadmaster while the Toyota family's child has a shiny new Highlander SUV to brag about.

What Toyota forgets is that a Buick Roadmaster can be very cool. In fact, really cool in a fun car enthusiast way; hence, the headline slam from Jalopnik.


What bothers me most about the ad is its timing.

At time when frugal spending is in vogue, it is a bit counterproductive to insult families who are being sensible driving used, most likely paid off, cars. Though, I'm not surprised a car company is promoting buying a new car. Increasing used car sales or promoting keeping a car that is a decade plus old isn't good for business. Insulting frugal families isn't good marketing either.


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Toyota Wants Your Ideas with a Twist



When I first caught the news of Toyota launching a new site called "Ideas for Good", I thought it was your typical request for consumer ideas much like My Starbucks Idea or Ford's Your Ideas. However, Toyota is taking an unusual, though complicated, twist on the concept.

Toyota wants people to generate ideas from a handful of their technologies. If you are not familiar with Toyota's technologies that's okay as they provide links to details. For example get to know more about T.H.U.M.S.:

T.H.U.M.S. (Total HUman Model for Safety) is an advanced injury-simulation software that measures more than the conventional crash test dummy can.

It's an interesting approach. Here is a technology developed by Toyota now tell us what we should do with it beyond its original automotive application. So far there were no ideas posted on the site, but that probably has more to do with today being the first day of promoting the site.

Toyota is promoting the ideas site using television ads which is also a different route than Ford, Starbucks and BestBuy who kept their idea sites to digital promotional channels, not TV.




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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand: October 2010



BMW continues to rack up Facebook fans quickly. They were near 3 million fans at the end of October and a now over 3 million as of early November. What’s interesting isn’t BMW’s continued rapid growth nor is it Audi following close behind; instead, what’s interesting is another German luxury marquee has decided to play the Facebook fan game. Mercedes-Benz grew an astounding 65% in October and surpassed their own first million-fan milestone.

This month Lexus and Toyota both redid their profile images to include additional messaging. Lexus is cross-promoting their Twitter and YouTube accounts while Toyota takes a page from Dunkin Donuts, but with their own twist by featuring a fan’s vehicle. Toyota is also promoting a new shopping application for mobile phones called mLot.

Some brands kept up their brand page marketing as Cadillac continued to run reachblock ad units featuring their new Cadillac CTS Coupe that drove fans to the main Cadillac fan page. Volkswagen also promoted their brand fan page. The VW ad units featured the new Jetta that launched last month. What was interesting is that VW used to promote vehicles and bring people to their vehicle fan pages, not the main VW fan page. Seems they are making a change and focusing on the main fan page, not surprising as most of the action is on brand pages not vehicle pages.


Also interesting is quite a high number of fan pages seeing 20% plus growth in one month. Several of the brands didn’t seem to have ad units running in October yet they experienced some rapid growth typical of buying media.




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


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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.


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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Honda Attempts to Add Some Swagger to Their Wagon



If the Toyota Sienna is the "Swagger Wagon", does this latest commercial for the Honda Odyssey make the Honda minivan the "Hair Band Wagon"? And what appeal would a hair band wagon have besides being capable of hauling around a couple kids and a pair of Marshall amplifiers?

Sorry Honda but this one tries to come across as absurd fun, similar to the Toyota Sienna campaign but it unfortunately misses the mark. It just falls flat. It comes across as if the ideation team looked at what their main competitor was doing and decided hey we really need some music in our ad and should make the minivan cool again. Answer: Black cat, Marshall amps, and fireworks. Hmmmm.... maybe the ad needs more spandex and a drum solo?


How it's done.



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Monday, October 11, 2010

Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand: September 2010



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

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


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

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

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


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