Social Media Car Marketing Gone Right…and Very Very Wrong

Ford Fiesta

I can remember a time, not too long ago, when new-car marketing meant placing an ad and waiting for customers to arrive in showrooms. Marketing cars was about putting a ton of messages in front of a ton of consumers, then hoping the right people saw the right message at the right time. Today, things are much different.

Instead of merely presenting messages to consumers, auto companies are forced to actually interact with them. Auto marketing now is all about attempts to actually integrate consumers’ lives into the brand, which through social media outlets can result in huge success or major disaster.

Obviously, some automakers handle social media marketing a lot better than others.

Ford’s “Fiesta Movement” campaign comes to mind as an example of successful social media advertising. For those who don’t remember, this was a grassroots campaign to promote the new Fiesta in the U.S. by placing one in the hands of 100 social “agents” and having each of them promote the new vehicle through Twitter, blogs, video, and events. Without spending a dime on traditional media, Ford got:

  • About 4.5 million YouTube views
  • 500,000+ Flickr views
  • 3 million+ Twitter impressions
  • 50,000 interested potential customers

Considering over 1,000 pre-orders for the Fiesta were taken in the first week of availability, I’d call the Fiesta Movement a smashing success.

Ford has also created its Digital Snippets website, which is a hub of social-media-friendly stories, photos, and videos optimized for easy reposting on social networks.

Lexus CT 200h Dark Ride adLexus, on the other hand, may be in store for a harsh wake-up call, as it is on the verge of launching a campaign that looks to me… well… rather hokey. Lexus wants potential customers to star in a new interactive film called Dark Ride. In it, Boondock Saints star Norman Reedus takes advice from you while piloting the new Lexus CT 200h.

According to the press release, the film has been released online at Visitors to the site will get to insert themselves into the film, sitting beside “Tony” (Reedus) and navigating while he drives the CT 200h from the Nevada desert to a Los Angeles safehouse and protects it from a variety of enemies who wish to get their hands on the new prototype.

Consumers will use an array of interactive features in the film—allowing them to insert their own likeness (via a Webcam or profile pic), record their own dialog lines, control the camera movement and POV, and make decisions that alter the path of the film so new situations arise each time.

It all just sounds like a lot of work to me, and a bit of a ripoff of BMW’s great short films.

A Toyota project with some potential is a campaign for the new Scion tC called Unlock the tC Road Trip. Users can register, connect through Facebook, and compete over 8 weeks to win a new tC. It should work, because it’s simple and keeps users coming back over an extended period of time, all with the goal of winning a new tC.

Do you think that Lexus’ Dark Ride campaign has any hope of success?


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1 Comment

  1. Don’t know if that Dark Ride campaign will work, but since getting into the movie will require some high-tech multimedia skills, I’ll bet a ton of the entries will come from people too young to drive – or adults who got help from their kids.

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