Showing posts with label reveal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reveal. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Volvo Wants You to be Naughty

The new Volvo S60 is sexy. You heard me right, a Volvo can be sexy with its smooth, flowing lines. I saw the concept car last year here in Detroit and it was the most interesting, beautifully designed Volvo since the P1800. Fortunately the production version of the concept from the 2009 show has remained pretty much intact to become the 2011 Volvo S60.

Yes it is sexy, but is it really naughty? Volvo’s marketing team thinks so. They had some fun prior to the car’s debut today in Geneva with two video teasers promoting the Volvo S60 reveal website: The two preview videos were a good way to build some buzz about the vehicle’s new website and created a mental shift of thinking of a Volvo as naughty. Naughty definitely sparked some interest since it seemed so far outside of Volvo’s normal brand image of family safety.

Michael Persson, director of global marketing communications for Volvo says “The all-new Volvo S60 is a particularly dynamic car with an exciting design and innovative safety features… We are showing what it can actually do and just how much fun it is to drive.”

The Naughty Volvo Cars website features a couple videos of the S60 aggressively driving in some empty road slaloms. One of the tests is an Elk Test that demonstrates “the S60’s amazing responsiveness in an emergency maneuver.”

After watching the tests the website viewer can submit ideas to make the Elk Test “even naughtier, more playful.” Users are asked to submit ideas with the top five ideas going up for a group vote with the top voted idea to be filmed by the Volvo S60 team.

Ideas are shared on a Discussion board on the Volvo brand Facebook fan page. As of today most of the ideas were not ideas at all, but instead Volvo fans asking for the return of a Volvo S60R as several enthusiasts figured a naughty Volvo implied a fast, Type R Volvo that did not happen today.

The site is pretty straightforward stuff. Navigation is clear and the video content is presented in a clean, easy-to-use format. The use of a Facebook discussion board made for an easier development schedule, but it does seem a bit disconnected since it doesn't warn the user a new window is opening and that the Facebook page is there to submit naughty ideas.

It also still isn’t entirely clear what is so naughty about the S60 after watching the videos and reading the site copy. The message feels very disconnected especially when the site asks, “want it naughty?” It just sees a bit odd for a vehicle that is probably going to sell to wealthy, middle-aged, professional men and women who buy a Volvo to protect their kids.

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.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Someone Needs to Tell BMW Widgets are Passe

It’s no secret: I’m a BMW fan boy. However, I just don’t get what led to the development of the BMW 5-Series Desktop widget application.

As part of the 5-Series launch in the UK, BMW launched a website experience showcasing some early images and facts about the car. They also added a Desktop widget application people can download to stay up-to-date on 5-series news.

What bothers me about this whole execution is what rubbish it is. It's either a low-cost recycling of another BMW widget that's been around since 2006. Or someone obviously convinced BMW to invest in a widget to keep customers current with 5-Series news, but then someone realized what everyone on a widget advertising idea realizes, Wait, we don’t have enough content to keep things fresh and interesting. So what else can we put in the widget?

So like many they added the cliché clock, weather and news feeds to keep things updated. The news feeds are the funniest part as they are just topical feeds that have nothing to do with BMW. Users can change their preferences (see image at right) and the content is probably chosen because it is relevant to the target consumer.

The idea of featuring what is thought to be relevant content is nonsense, because people already have tons of places they already regularly go to get news and chances of your brand’s random news feed matching someone’s needs is pretty rare.

We can assume the news feeds match the target consumer profiles the marketing team came up with or what existing publisher relationships the BMW brand already has established. The news information is enlightening, as I never knew the BMW 5-Series segment was so enthralled with “Sexy Surfer-Girl Swimwear” (see image at left)? But then again who isn’t interested in Malibu’s latest swimwear styles.

The widget also doesn’t extend the website experience or include additional information about the new car that can’t be found elsewhere. There simply is no reason to use the widget if you’ve already been to the 5-Series reveal site, which you had to have visited to download the widget. With no new vehicle content or insight into the vehicle’s features, it lacks any value to people interested in the product.

It’s really disappointing that a car as cool and modern gets a lame 2007 widget to help launch it. Widgets were all the rage several years ago and some companies did get it right, like Acura’s Navigation widget that showcased their technology in a cool, useful way. Plus it has been successful with over 51,000 downloads from just Yahoo!'s widget site alone (BMW's 2006 widget mentioned earlier has 21,000 downloads.)

Unfortunately, the BMW 5-Series widget is a hobbled together mess that is trying hard to be valuable to its customers. I wonder how many will keep using it after seeing how little information it provides and how every link about the product, except images, opens a new browser window taking people to the BMW UK site. I’m guessing very few installs will survive post initial curiosity.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lexus GX: Girl Power Promise Deflated

I received the above promotion for the All New Lexus GX in my email last night. It shows a Victoria Beckham / Grace Jones Super Woman who is identified as "The Driver: Trusted transporter of precious goods." It's raw girl power aged 20 years to fit the middle-aged target consumer. It's tough, stylish and strong.

Sure it's a bit funny coming from what most people consider the boring Luxury brand that builds quality vehicles, but this is marketing to the edgy luxury consumer and another example of luxury female focused marketing, similar to the recent BMW 5-Series GT.

Unlike the 5-Series GT marketing where the email marketing leads the interested to a site matching the email creative, Lexus brings the consumer to a brochure-ware site experience that leaves out all of the girl power messaging. Instead the consumer is showed a product demonstration overview video and provided several links to learn more about the car. Pretty stale stuff after the rock star promise.

So what happened to Victoria Beckham / Grace Jones Super Woman? She's gone and so is all of the "transporter of precious goods" messaging designed to appeal to the target consumer. What a shame because there was so much scrumptious fun that could have been if Lexus continued through with its creative idea.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Audi and Infiniti Debut New Vehicles on Facebook

A lot is going on when it’s Auto Show week. With the Los Angeles Auto Show in full swing, automakers were looking for ways to involve those who couldn’t visit the land of swimmin’ pools and movie stars.

Audi and Infiniti decided to bring their reveal events online to the popular social networking site Facebook. The Infiniti event was an online look into the reveal happening in conjunction with the LA Auto Show. The Audi event was held on the opposite coast in Miami with some additional corporate promotion. Both events used the same template construct with a live video feed and Facebook chat.

Audi’s Miami Talk Show

“Since our inception, Audi has embraced progress in the quest to create groundbreaking technologies and deliver new ideas to the road. Just as artists make it a mission to work for the untold future, so does Audi design to be relevant not just today, but for many years to come,” said Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management, Audi AG

That statement is representative of how painful it was to watch the Audi A8 reveal on Facebook last Monday evening. Just imagine that language repeated ad nauseam for 30 minutes and you'll understand why the chat participants on Facebook started to get a bit rowdy.

The event started nicely enough with TV and film star Lucy Liu welcoming everyone to the event and sharing how Audi is entrenched in design and why they were making the U.S. debut of the new Audi A8 at the Art Basel Miami Beach.

A welcoming is nice and expected, but then things got a bit weird. Lucy invited several people up to discuss design and the Miami community’s commitment to art. The discussion went on and on and on like a Sergio Marchionne press event. Chat participants started mocking the Miami community, Lucy Liu, and were getting very frustrated with Audi wasting everyone’s time talking about things they didn’t care about. I was personally waiting for an artistic discussion on chiaroscuro and its meaning in Hieronymus Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delight”.

Eventually Audi revealed the A8, but it was too much of wait for me personally as I had things to do with my family that evening. My wife’s patience was really being tried and well she wins. I caught the photos of the car on Jalopnik that evening and everything looked pretty good and mostly followed the Sport Back Concept Audi showed last January at the Detroit Auto Show.

Infiniti Shows Us How It’s Done

Last night was the second Facebook vehicle reveal, this time from Infiniti. They showed off some minor changes to the G sedan and were mainly promoting the unveiling of the 2011 Infiniti M.

Maybe Infiniti watched the chat discussion from Audi’s event and decided it was best to keep things on topic. They welcomed everyone sans celebrity, showed off the G sedan, then briefly talked about the key message for the M, and pulled the car cover off the new M. All of this took 16 minutes from start to finish. It was short and sweet.

Conversation at the Infiniti event mainly stayed on topic, because it was respectful of people’s time. Most importantly the presentation was all about the cars. Simple. Effective.

While companies may want to make their online reveal more of an event by having a celebrity host and tying it in with some philanthropic effort, it is best to keep the event to the reason why people came. Watching something like this on the web is not the same as being trapped in a seat at a Miami auditorium. Internet users can come and go very easily. Plus they didn't get any hors d'uvres or have an incentive to stay for a picture with a Charlie's Angel.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Audi's e-tron Concept Hopefully Not the Future of Website Navigation

I wonder if some sites ever went through usability testing. The Audi e-tron concept website definitely suffers from some significant design issues. First of all it contains no obvious cues about what one gets when clicking on the icon based navigation elements.

There are four key video content elements in the right-hand navigation featuring futurist diagrams and computer-generated imagery (CGI). Navigation includes design, technology, the intelligent automobile, and interior concept all visually demonstrating the e-tron’s features. The problem is each link is a tilted image not easily showing what the image is or what one sees when it is clicked on. In fact, the titled image navigation doesn't even seem like a navigation, you only know because your mouse changes its icon.

One demonstration is a nod to a future interior concept that seems very close to what might happen in the next few years. For example, a “Streets of Tomorrow” demonstration shows how the navigation of the future will tell us when we need milk as we are passing a grocery store. I think I heard this idea in 1998, but hey it still has never been done and people keep suggesting it. Telling me it is an idea no one wants, but keeps coming up in brainstorming or there is some technical barrier, I'm guessing the former. Another example is the car diagnostic system showing actual psi ratings of the tires is far more advanced than the Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) of today.

The footer of the site features a share on Facebook, a 360 view and a film of the product unveiling at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Another link shows the conversation that is ongoing across multiple social network properties featuring a count of YouTube, Flickr, Twitter and blogs covering the vehicle. The conversation section is very well executed and makes for an interesting way to showcase social dialog. This technique is becoming a standard approach as it was recently featured on the TDI site Audi recently launched.

When a social conversation is selected, Audi returns a very nice card that shows the social media content and allows the user to view it on its source site or one can Tweet the content if they so wish. The execution is very nice and one of the best implementations of social media content integration and sharing I have seen. Audi truly is on to showing all sites a very effective to show buzz and allow further sharing through a clean, well-designed interface.

It’s too bad that the Audi e-tron site suffers from some difficult navigation. Some proper usability testing would have corrected many of the apparent issues here. Of course, I haven’t put the site through testing, but having done testing on many sites in my decade plus experience, I’m sure the site would have some major hurdles for all but the technically adept or ultra-patient.

The big message here is the electric engine in an Audi R8 and whether Audi will really ever build an electric super car, especially after Audi President of North America Johan de Nysschen recently called anyone who buys a Chevy Volt a car for idiots.

Where the Audi campaign really shines isn’t this site. The really great work are the viral videos that were created to promote the site. There is a YouTube Channel housing three videos produced to launch the e-tron concept. All three are performing very well for a concept launch. The videos are getting over around 200,000 views each, which may sound low, but relative to most automotive content of similar nature the numbers are pretty good.

It’s great having this amount of content for a concept vehicle. Few concept vehicles get this much attention and I'm sure the agency, Venables Bell & Partners, had a great time concepting the effort. We had a similar effort done for our Lincoln C Concept car at the 2009 International Auto Show and it was very well received. I think car companies can benefit by extending the concept experience to a digital space, especially when the vehicle showcases some compelling exterior and interior design elements and technology advancements. The only caution with all of this futuristic design is that website navigation is still constrained to the usability best practices of today and designers should consider the aggravation complex site navigation can cause the average visitor.

Be cool, just don't be difficult.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

GM Re-Ignites Image with More Future Product

The mantra for real estate is "location, location, location!" For automotive it is "product, product, product!" When GM launched their branding campaign RE:Invention the day it exited bankruptcy it was highly controversial and easily criticized debut for the 100 year old brand.

Now with Bob Lutz, the seminal car guy of the industry, in charge of marketing it is no surprise that the newest GM Re:Invention ad is call Re-Ignition and does what all the critics, myself included, said GM should do and that is focus on the products the company is building that showcase what the New GM is all about.

"Re-Ignition" leads with Cadillac's highly-successful CTS sedan and transitions to show off two new production vehicles, the SRX and CTS Sport Wagon. What's surprising about the spot is the new CTS coupe is literally launched in the ad. It's surprising because the car is about a year away from arriving on dealer lots, but launching new vehicles a year or even years ahead of having them for sale is starting to become a trend with GM.

This early marketing of the CTS coupe begs the question: Does it make sense to launch a car a year or more ahead of supply? For GM, it makes a lot of sense since they are mainly trying to rebuild their brands after accepting significant government bailout money.

The whole push to promote new models and even early CAD renderings of possible concepts is a way for GM to show they are new, fresh and capable of building cars people want. The Chevy Volt is showcased over and over again since it is the darling of what an American 'green' vehicle can become. It truly reinvents the industry (just don't tell anyone that every automaker from Fiat, Toyota, Ford, Chrysler, Nissan, etc are also building Electric Vehicle products launching around the same time as the Volt.) But this is marketing and GM is making a strong bid to show it is building the future of the American auto industry.

It is rare for an automaker to start promoting a vehicle before the production version gets its official reveal at a major auto show. The auto show is a place where the media can see the car, get inside, and share their thoughts on the design and space of the vehicle before early production models head out for media drive events. The reveal starts the buzz for a new vehicle.

The Converj Concept, that the CTS coupe gets its body from, debuted at this year's Detroit Auto Show but that was an early concept model and not the production reveal. Plus the Conjerv was all about making a Cadillac version of the Chevy Volt. By debuting a new model months before it shows up in an auto show as a production debut, Cadillac is trying to generate some early buzz for the product and the Cadillac brand.

Unfortunately, the coupe isn't that revolutionary. It's just a coupe which is something the CTS needs to be competitive against its German rivals the Mercedes C-Class, BMW 3-series, and Audi A5. Lincoln doesn't make a coupe MKZ and Lexus should have an IS coupe soon. Having an entry luxury coupe isn't as exciting as reinventing electric vehicle technology so maintaining any buzz will be difficult.

Regardless GM is actively reinventing itself and it is a great thing to do that reinvention by showcasing future products instead of using cliche Americana imagery that many rolled their eyes at when GM ran their "New GM" spot. My guess is that with Lutz at the helm we'll continue to see early product marketing efforts and fewer brand anthems. It's all about the product.

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.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Shape Your Fiesta, By Helping Ford Determine Options

Using the web to gauge consumer interest is nothing new. Ford is trying it right now with their “Shape the 2011 Fiesta” quiz. Visitors can select what options, color and transmission they want for their ideal Fiesta. It’s a great way to see what demand there may be for a new vehicle.

The issue with the idea is will it attract future consumers or just auto enthusiast types who are more than willing to select a manual over automatic transmission for a dream Fiesta, but never really buy such a car? The hope, of course, is that those visiting the Fiesta pre-reveal site are truly considers of the product and will positively impact the production decisions as the car crosses the Atlantic Ocean to enter the U.S. market.

Ford is evaluating quiz-takers by how they define themselves as “loafer or high-top” and “brand-new skateboard or brand-new golf driver”, in their “Choose Your Thing” quiz at the end of the shape your Fiesta poll.

It’s an interesting approach and a commendable way to determine demand, provided potential buyers actually do find the site. I keep filling it hoping they’ll build a manual, hatch in Green Apple.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Just as Difficult to Comprehend as Cubism

The Nissan Cube finally debuted at the LA Auto Show last month, but before that Nissan debuted their Nissan Cube pre-reveal website. The site was tailored to the attention deficit disordered consumer with plenty of clickable cubes that brought you to no content about the car, just a bunch of stuff about cube-isms (witty sayings written by Nissan’s marketing group) and the ability to share the site with your friends. My question is share what? The pre-reveal site had no content about the car. In fact, there is only one shot of the vehicle in a small 150-by-150 pixel shot of the car in a 3/4-rear angle.

The site also featured a Twitter link allowing you to subscribe to Nissan Cube Twitters. There were updates nearly everyday that just sent you more “cube-isms”. There were 118 followers and 88 updates. Some real examples: “my dog gets me”, “I’ve got shag on my mind”, “I roll with the carpool” and my personal favorite “why all the fuss over money?” Huh? The Twitter ended when the car was revealed in LA and now asks people to visit their… you guessed it – Facebook page.

What I wonder is did the Twitter increase engagement? Possibly, but most likely not. The witty statements did fit with the cutesiness of the car and it’s youthful target certainly fits a Twitter user. The big issue I have with the execution is why end it on Twitter when the car is revealed? Few people would ever visit the pre-reveal site since it is not aligned with all of the press releases and auto show coverage. Seems Nissan could’ve had a more significant Twitter audience if they kept it going with their new reveal site and Facebook page.

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.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Fine Art of Delayed Gratification

At 4pm EST on September 18, Ferrari debuted its full communication on the new Ferrari California. Of course, this online event is probably more for auto enthusiast geeks like myself than the average Ferrari buyer who is too busy trying to find employment now that Lehman Brothers is bankrupt. Good timing Ferrari! Just in time for the global financial crisis, good thing golden parachutes are the norm these days.

Timing aside, Ferrari has been doing one of the more interesting delayed vehicle reveals. It all began several months ago when they launched their Ferrari California web site complete with a countdown clock and, the interesting part, “Hear”. “Hear” simulated the sense of sound by allowing the user to click on various sound environment features thereby letting the ferocious sound of the exhaust note be enjoyed even if you can’t afford one.

Their next debut came with the “See” content. Finally, the official images, some downloadable wallpaper, and a screensaver were made available for PC and Mac. By this point the car’s full look inside and out was clearly communicated unlike some of the annoying delayed reviews from Citroen GT, Ford Mustang, and Porsche Panamera.

The final installment that arrived for the Paris Auto Show reveal is “Feel” and what a rich experience it is. There are 11 videos all done to showcase the car: the premier, backstage, interviews, after party, the typical road cruise full of beauty shots, and what everyone was waiting for the President’s speech… okay just kidding about the last one, but hey someone took the time to film his talk so post it to the web site.

Overlooking the President’s speech, the films are interesting and really build a lot of passion for the car along with bringing everyone up into the debut beyond just filming the typical stage introduction of the car on the media day. The videos are really for brand passionate visitors, which I’m sure there are a lot of when introducing a historic nameplate like a California GT.

What I find most compelling about the Ferrari California website is the way they did a staggered delay to reveal. They also accompanied the reveal with a lot of photos sent out to auto enthusiast sites, prior to the auto show reveal, to generate some early buzz for the car. Vehicle shots were not isolated to showing one photo of a headlight or a shift knob; instead, Ferrari realizes the car is beautiful in its entirety and that showing a couple professional shots of the car would generate more passion for the car than just feeding the public a small corner of the car’s exterior or interior and to keep building suspense by progressively releasing more and more professional shots.

Teasing with minute photos of each part of the car is excruciating. If you want to tease, please do it the Ferrari way and not the Citroen way.