Showing posts with label launch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label launch. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Celebrity" Ride and Drives

Celebrity is back. Okay, it never really went away, but it seems there is a new spin on how to get celebrities interested in trying out a new car. Pair the celebrity with an interesting personality who can keep the conversation interesting and also find some time to highlight the features in the car.

For Lexus, the formula centered around the attractive comedian Whitney Cummings driving celebrities - from all walks of life - including a skateboarder, actress, and a social media author in the all-new CT 200h. The CT 200h is a new hybrid hatchback that arrives at dealerships in March 2011. There isn't much new with the CT 200h, but Whitney is a great host and makes most of the videos watchable. She definitely is the star more so than the car.

The CT 200h campaign is called the Darker Side of Green, but they extended the campaign by calling the drives Darkcasting. Why Darkcasting? It is described as "the first ever in-car after-dark talk show." I'm sure the claim of "first ever" will go unchallenged. Each drive takes place at night and the cast is Whitney as passenger and her "celebrity" driver.

You can see social media author Brian Solis in this video:

Chevrolet Casts "The Perez Hilton of the East Coast"

Chevrolet includes lifestyle and celebrity blogger Micah Jesse as a key person in their latest campaign Cruze-Arati.

Unfortunately, Micah mistakenly assumes he is doing the "first mobile talk show." Perhaps he can claim the first ever in-car daylight talk show. I'm fairly certain that claim is still available.

Micah does an in-car interview with "celebrity" Kelly Bensimon from the Real Housewives of New York City.

One odd difference is how Micah interviews Kelly on the side of the road. Did Chevy's lawyers not allow the interview to happen while the car is in drive?

Cruze-Arati is a bit more than just in-car interviews. In fact, most of it revolves around six topical experts talking on subjects like Technology, Music, Sports and Fashion. It's mainly about socially active people driving around in a Cruze and showcasing some "crazy" stories around each of the topics. There is even a Twitter account, @Cruzearati, to follow all the antics.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Saab Soft Launches 9-5 Via iTunes AppStore

In iPhone and iPad application news, Saab released a new app for the launch of the 9-5. I believe this is Saab's first application on either platform and unfortunately it's not much of an effort.

The application merely mimics the content from their website where feature pages, a 360, an image gallery, and intro video are provided as content in the app. There is nothing more than the reuse of existing content repackaged for an application. It's very similar to what Mercedes did for the C63 AMG two-years ago.

I personally would've like to have seen some handraiser implementation within the application so the company could engage further with the app's users provided of course they are not disappointed after downloading something they basically could have seen on their iPhone or iPad's web browser.

Oh well, hopefully we'll see some more interesting things as Saab gets ready to spend big for their "Change Perspective" 9-5 launch.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Can We Please Permanently Getaway from Flash Mobs

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

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

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


Sunday, February 28, 2010

Scion tC RS 6.0 Series Site an Epic Fail

Site Reviewed: Scion tC Release Series

Most online consumer experiences market a combination of style and attitude about a product while showcasing why the product relates to the target consumer and imparts information on the strengths of the product.

Rarely does style overtake substance so much as it does in the latest effort from Scion. “Get Inside the tC Release Series” website experience, developed by marketing agency ..and company, is an extreme example showcasing all things not to do in a social media, Facebook-enabled automotive marketing experience.

The site invites the user to immediately “start” an inner exploration by first asking to share Facebook content back and forth with the Scion tC site. If one doesn’t “connect” the site doesn’t let the user through the home page. Users who are fine with letting Scion publish and take anything from their Facebook content are allowed to continue. (Fail #1: Not allowing an experience to those who don’t accept the Facebook Connect prompt.)

If one is fine with allowing access, they are immediately presented a 30 second or so video that shows all kinds of Vegas lights, concert marquees, and other cliché nightlife imagery. While the imagery plays, the user’s Facebook images and even names of their friends encapsulated in fake text messages that show up on screen. It’s content integration to give the illusion of personalization. (Fail #2: Facebook content is used not to enhance the experience but to simply repurpose it into a confusing video message. The site took users from my friends that I barely connect with and the images all looked out of place in the video content. For example, my twin boys and I on a concert poster looks really odd.)

Another Dumb Step

After the video plays the user is prompted to setup Dumb Step 360; I mean DUBSTEP 360. Once you setup DUBSTEP 360, whatever that is, it shows you a video of a dark nightclub with barely visual images of people dancing and hanging out. This goes on for about two minutes. It eventually stops prompting the user to share DUBSTEP 360. Oh yeah that was worth sharing? Is this the creative team a bit too in love with their idea? I’m starting to think so.

After publishing the share of DUBSTEP 360, the link showed up on my Facebook profile and when clicking on it the homepage of the Scion tC RS 6.0 site shows up with no information about what DUBSTEP 360 is. Now my friends have to go through the Facebook Connect Allow and navigate through the site probably forgetting all about DUBSTEP provided they actually moved beyond the home page which is seriously doubtful.

It's all very confusing especially considering the Facebook link on my account shows a DJ and nothing about Scion tC RS vehicle. It does say “Scion DUBSTEP 360” but that is still very confusing considering what a Facebook friend has to go through to get to see what the DJ was all about. (Fail #3: Facebook publish post takes long time to get to content that was shared thus causing confusion.)

No car. No idea what DUBSTEP 360 is (for those who don't know like me - yes I Googled it - it’s a style of electric dance music with roots in the early 2000s from the UK)? Hopefully people stay engaged. While the music video plays a hotspot takes the user to, which is no longer connected to anything about the tC RS 6.0. A hotspot to the Scion page makes no sense when experiencing a music video that’s part of the communication for the tC RS 6.0 vehicle, yet two minutes into the experience there is zero about the car and when clicking in the dance scene one gets taken to a completely disconnected jump to Scion’s main consumer site.

I’ve seen some pretty dumb stuff and have been involved with some poor user experiences, but the Scion tC RS 6.0 site is now the poster child of awful usability, an utter disconnect from product, and a design team completely in control of the experience rendering it virtually useless.

The team here must have been so in love with their idea to integrate Facebook Connect for reusing gallery images, profile pics, and friend’s names through Facebook’s API that the team forgot this was about showcasing a car, not how cool you can be at recycling all of the content on a person’s social site. (Fail #4: Lacks meaningful content about the product after several minutes of the site experience.)

If a user ever wants to learn anything about the tC RS 6.0 they must click an 8-point size text link in the bottom left center of the navigation menu labeled “Features+Gallery” that takes one to a completely different site! That’s right, if you want to learn anything about the car you have to go to a different experience, continuing to demonstrate how epic of a failure the tC Release Series 6.0 site is. (Fail #5: To view vehicle content, one must entirely leave the site to learn about the car.)

Building a Niche Fan Base While Ignoring the Brand

So the site is a usability disaster of epic proportions and lacks vehicle content. It must get something right, right? No. The other part of the experience is clicking the “Becoming a Fan on Facebook” link that takes one to the fan page, but not a Scion fan page; instead, the user is brought to a vehicle fan page for the Release Series. Sure there is nothing wrong with that connection or is there?

Scion lacks a real fan page. There is an unofficial one, but no brand fan page. Also the Release Series is a niche product line with a very limited production run of 1,100 units for the tC and few other units from past and future models.

Why not instead establish a brand presence on Facebook for all Scion fans and roll that out with the tC RS 6.0? This way the brand could expand it’s fan base to other vehicle fans and build an official Scion fan page with the release of this hot vehicle.

Seems like the brand is missing an opportunity to attract fans to the brand and start a decent following. Looking at the Release Series Facebook Wall one sees a lot of fans are there talking about all things Scion, not just the tC RS. (Fail #6: Builds fans on Facebook with one limited appeal vehicle while still lacking a brand Facebook fan page for all brand consumers and aspirationals.)

In Closing

This is an example of what not to do with one’s online site experience. I rarely am this rough with a site and apologize to the team involved, but I am pretty sure this site never went through usability testing with real users, the team was entirely led by creative whims not business goals, and the execution totally lost sight of the vehicle to instead focus on UK dance music.

Talk about trying to be cool and not even coming close.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo a Comfortable Fit for the Neiman Marcus MILF

In case you do not know, the new BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo isn’t for the M3 racer type. It’s not even promoted as a high-performance car. No the marketing for the 5 Series GT is all about style, fashion, practicality and the Nomadic life. This is an effort to reach the professional female consumer, one with a significant emphasis on style and beauty or as I prefer to call the demographic – “The Nieman Marcus MILF”.

To appeal to this demographic, BMW North America has created three lifestyle videos featuring Catherine Malandrino. Since I’m not exactly the target consumer, I had to do a bit of research to figure out who Malandrino is. She owns several New York City clothing boutiques. Her clothing line is also appropriately for sale at Nieman Marcus and Saks too. She is a French designer who probably has significant appeal for the high-end female consumer BMW is trying to appeal too.

I was impressed when going to Catherine Malandrino’s fashion website that she has a link to the BMW 5 Series GT site. A very nice, simple integration that is often missed when efforts like these happen.

One common approach car companies use to match their online efforts with the consumer is a “day in the life” video. The 5 Series GT site is no exception. It shows Catherine getting her morning coffee, talking about her busy life as a mother and a fashion designer. So if you have a morning photo shoot with your professional photographer after stopping at Starbucks, this is the ride for you. Of course it really isn’t fair mocking these videos, all of them are quite humorous because they typical ooze pretentious behavior and really how many women out there live Catherine’s life? This is marketing so it really is more about perceiving yourself as a Catherine Malandrino.

The videos are nicely shot and bring in images of the 5 Series in a way that is tasteful and purposeful. The more involved product content is in the Space, Form, Function and Motion site areas. Each section features some beautifully shot, large video content that displays the luxury of the crossover. The product videos also have some nice chaptering where users can jump to desired product information without having to watch the full video.

I also really liked the full-size window icons where product images can be viewed in more detail. Hopefully, most users will know to click the window size icon on the product detail screens, if they do they are in for a treat. The photography is elegant and really shows off the beauty of the car.

Beauty of the car? The 5 Series GT hasn’t received the most flattering of coverage from the automotive press while BMW fans are a bit less harsh. I was just recently at a BMW Car Club Christmas party where this vehicle was featured. A lot of negative comments were heard especially about the exterior and BMW losing some of its brand identity with products like this. It is definitely a move a way from the brand’s performance heritage.

The interior is where the car is a work of art. The interior seats, dash, materials and space are impressive. It really is quite beautiful from the inside.

Where the site is confusing is in the “History of the Gran Turismo” section. Why this crossover is even called a GT is odd, even offensive to auto enthusiasts. In the 1950 page of the Gran Turismo history the copy reads, “a two-seater that can go great distances, take sport-car turns, and store luggage for a weekend getaway.” Then we get the connection of the 5 Series GT to this heritage. “A high-performance answer to the open road.”

This is an extension of Gran Turismo touring history? It’s not about weekend getaways, it’s about piling in your kids, turning on the DVD system, and heading to Mall of America. There is no sense of freedom and adventure. The 5 Series GT is not the answer to enjoying winding roads and the freedom of two people enjoying a quiet weekend at beach cottage in Santa Barbara. I suppose someone had to justify the name so this section was created to appeal to the product naming consultant who does know what Gran Turismo means, just that it sounds cool and sporty.

Also there is an odd site behavior when someone clicks on the News Feed link. This brings viewers to BMW’s News Feed page, which takes people away from the launch site experience to what looks like a Public Relations release. It removes the 5 Series GT navigation which is very confusing and probably leads to a higher abandonment rate from the site. The same happens with the Sign up for updates link, you leave the launch site experience.

Gran Turismo naming abuse and some poor site navigation decisions aside, the 5 Series GT site does have some beautiful content showcasing a rather controversial product for BMW. The good news is the website left me with a more positive impression of the vehicle, much like when I saw the 5 Series GT in person. What’s more important than my feeling better about it: Does it appeal to professional fashionista women who are the target consumer? It probably does as I really felt the site was what I'd expect from a Mercedes-Benz launch site appealing to their typical consumer, the Neiman Marcus MILF.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

In the Footsteps of the Nissan GT-R and Ferrari California Comes the Honda Accord CrossTour

There are only 13 days 16 hours 49 minutes and 17 seconds until Honda’s latest vehicle debut. Is it the new Honda S2000? Discontinued. Or is it Honda’s luxury brand Acura building a new NSX? Discontinued. Or is Honda building the S3000 Concept from 2008? Unfortunately not.

The countdown is for the all-new Honda Accord CrossTour, a “coupe” SUV variant of the already debuted Acura ZDX. In an attempt to build buzz for Honda’s latest boring, reliable transportation, they have implemented a countdown clock that is more familiar on debuts for a lust worthy sports car like a Ferrari California, Nissan GT-R or Ford Mustang, all of which had countdown clocks on their launch websites.

Honda is currently running ad units on Facebook that bring users to a Honda Accord CrossTour fan page where they can read some posts from Honda’s own Twitter PR representative @Alicia_at_Honda and can watch a video showing clear valley, mountain lush roads just waiting for a vehicle to appear, but nothing but barren roads are shown. It ends with no messaging.

The Facebook execution is currently void of any information, beyond a wall post saying it will be available fall of 2009. So, if you click through the ads you are brought to fan page for a vehicle you can’t see, watch a video with an empty road, and learn nothing about Honda’s new product. It’s a fairly odd destination and fails to entice the reader to want to know more, except for the ardent Honda brand advocate. You wonder what some one thinks when they essentially get nothing.

Comments on the Facebook fan page predominantly come from Honda defenders who are happy with their prior Honda purchase. Few commentators care to know more about the Accord CrossTour. Those who do want to know more share links to Car & Driver spy photos.

We’ll have to see how the reveal evolves. Maybe something will finally show up on the video’s empty roads. Right now, it’s an interesting way to unveil and build buzz for a rather sedate vehicle. Will anyone really care 13 days 15 hours 35 minutes and 9 seconds remain until a new beefed up hatchback enters the US market? Apparently 1,849 Facebook fans care enough to listen.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Kia Forte, Looks Small But Is of Decent Size

Launch websites are all about communicating the strengths of a new product. They typically have several key elements common across every brand. A few navigational links are provided highlighting the product’s key feature set like safety, performance, or technology. A limited photo gallery exists and some link to keep interested consumers updated about the product, when it hits dealerships or another model type is available.

Basically, these sites are placeholders for the shopping experience content and a place to drive media traffic to or to give early consumers more information. A product’s campaign plan is usually set by this time and you should see a site that leverages the print and TV campaign.

The Kia Forte follows that model for the most part. The site showcases the car’s strengths and hammers the message throughout that the Kia Forte has class leading fuel-efficiency and horsepower.

I explored the site seeing many formulaic elements until I reached the Gallery and that’s when I ran into the strangest thing I think I’ve ever seen on a vehicle website: The Turtlecock.

“Meet the Turtlecock. An impressive fusion of style and safety. Although incredibly rare, it has much in common with the Kia Forte, which offers advanced standard features, distinctive design and class-leading standard safety equipment.” (see image at top of article)

Maybe Turtlecock means something else at Kia but it has a more familiar definition I found online:

"Turtlecock (tûr´tl•koˇk) n. A term used that denotes a man who is posessor of a cock that looks small, or very small (may even be hidden by a belly), when unerect; but once erect (comes out of the shell in essence) the cock is of a decent size.
Often referred to as growers not showers”

Now I know that some random online definition is no Webster’s, but this is a well-known slang term. Though, maybe this is intentional as the Forte is rather tiny at first sight yet impressive when you spend some quality time with the car.

Didn’t someone at Kia or Kia’s agency realize what a turtle cock is or at least Google it? Part of me wonders if this was some kind of dare in the creative department to see if turtle cock could get approved all the way through launch.

Whatever the case, it definitely ranks as one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen on an automotive product launch site. I just won’t be planning on downloading it as a wallpaper which, by the way, Kia lets me do.

Looking beyond the species breeding: Turtlecock, Horsephant, and Cheetamel (browse the site’s gallery if you wish to know more), each product area features a short documentary-like commercial using historic clips about performance, the evolution of engine design, and the launch of Sputnik. It’s a rather mundane concept but hey it’s a Forte, not the most exciting car in the world and probably with a very limited advertising budget.

Finally, each product section also includes a nice “Compare” button where you can evaluate the Forte’s strengths against the segments two key competitors: Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. This is far more useful than learning about a Horsephant and does convey the product’s positioning rather nicely in a simple, easy way for consumers.

If any of you were involved with this project, please let us know what the person won that got turtle cock into the gallery. I hope it was good

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Few New Products Sites Launched This Week

Three sites launched this week to promote two new products: 2010 Ford Fusion and 2010 Lincoln MKZ. A third site launched, previewing the new 2010 Cadillac SRX to be released in summer 2009.

The Ford and Lincoln sites are sites I was a part of and worked on quiet extensively. Please share your thoughts about the sites as I'll just let them speak for themselves. I will add that both sites are a digital extension of both campaigns and are designed for awareness purposes.

The Cadillac SRX site is a debut that is aimed directly at the Lexus RX350. The site is pretty straightforward, as it is just introducing the product. No positioning and the online media I caught on has a Call to Action to Receive Updates. I did, still no update or thank you after a day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Chevy Camaro Launch Site Fails on Many Levels

Chevy launched the new Camaro web site today. Unfortunately, the cost cutting at GM is crippling assets as the team had to recycle videos from the upcoming Transformers film so they would have more than one video in their gallery. The one original video for the launch also suffers from some poor computer graphics (CG) development. Too bad, because the Camaros are showing up on the roads here in Michigan and the car looks amazing.

There is also a link called "Global Development" that lets you see where in Japan the body seal testing occurred. What?! Huh? Yes, if you care, you can learn how the car is a global development effort. Seems like an odd thing to share when GM is doing its best to say it is an American car company that needs to be saved. Not that global manufacturing is any secret, it just seems very disconnected to the brand of the Camaro -- a classic American muscle car. I'm just going to assume the inclusion of this content was not strategic, but rather an attempt to get some content added when budget is scarce.

The best part of the site is the well executed Compare page. It gives you a list of various direct and indirect competitors and lets you see how the Camaro is a better choice. Of course, it is your typical compare from an OEM website. So, the 0-60 times compare the Camaro against a model with the less powerful engine (eg BMW 328i instead of the twin-turbo 335i.) Comparison cherry-picking aside, it is well executed and also continues Chevy's tradition of adding credibility to the compares by including the Polk Automotive (third-party) logo.

The biggest gap in the execution is a lack of sharing. There is no way to share photos, tell a friend, all types of content extension are missing from the site, which is very odd for a passion product like Camaro. Though I did, after looking at the site a third time, notice you can share the videos but it is not very intuitive.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Some of My Work Debuted Yesterday

It's a great time to work with Ford, Lincoln and Mercury. This is a time of new distinctive design and high fuel economy vehicles as Ford adjusts to the changing market. That's why it was an exciting day yesterday when three vehicles I worked on debuted at the LA Auto Show, followed by three vehicle reveal websites. Two major launches included the new Ford Fusion + Fusion Hybrid and the Lincoln MKZ. We also developed some content to reveal the new Mercury Milan & Milan Hybrid. All the distraction of the industry aside, these are some solid products with major updates to their interiors, improved fuel economy, and the addition of a couple hybrid sedans.

Since this is some of my work, I'll just let it speak for itself as I really cannot get into much about the strategic decisions without divulging proprietary information, so my apologies. I do think there is some beautiful work but I did learn a few things that I look forward to improving as we look to the Detroit Auto Show in January and what's to come then.