Honda uses Twitter Cards for 2015 CR-V

After Acura, now Honda is using the Twitter Cards to allow their followers to customize the 2015 CR-V.

The user is engaged with top-line configuration within the tweet – allowing the brand to create more value in making the user aware of the different trims and options available rather than just sharing a link out to the configurator with an image.

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The user begins with selecting a trim, then the drive train and finally the colors. The end result shows the ‘front’ and ‘back’ shot of the car and allowing the user to tweet their configuration and share with their followers. After sharing, serious buyers can proceed with ‘Continue Buying’ where it takes the user to the brand website.

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The interesting part of the user journey is that the user doesn’t need to re-start the configuration and lands on the last step i.e. color selection. One can always go back and change, but those who are confident with their selection can move forward to complete the entire configuration with accessories etc.

Honda_CRV_Configurator

For serious buyers and auto enthusiasts, this is a good way to engage them and help them learn more about the CR-V.

Here is how it all began with Acura.

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Paper Toys – by Audi and BMW

Besides gaming, automotive brands are using their magazines and social media to engage their owners kids as well.

Audi Magazine

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Audi USA provides a special ‘Audi kids’ space’ on their official website where visitors can download the A3 Cut-outs and also shop Audi collection. The cutouts can be downloaded as PDFs and also torn from the last page of the Audi Magazine delivered to the owners.

Audi_A3_CutOut

Besides Audi A3 Cut-out, there is also a cut-out to appeal to the racing fans and engage kids by providing them with assets to tell their own story.

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BMW – Personalized Paper Toy

BMW Brasil has an improved version to that of the Audi, where the car can be personalized in terms of the name, colors and wheels. All the user has to do is add a name and make the selection to generate an instantly downloadable PDF.

BMW_Brasil

BMW_Paper_toy

Even though BMW Brasil provides a personalized cut-out version, it does not clearly specify which model it is. That is a missed opportunity to create some familiarity with the kids at a young age and already capture their minds.

BMW Germany however adds additional value targeting probably 10 years and older with printable board games, student plans and coloring books.

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However, both the examples are interesting and simple providing the time-poor parents a quick take out. BMW also acts responsible here by not promoting their products only in gaming, to which many parents are opposed and add strict time tables to play video games, but also creating loyalty and expressing ‘Family Care’ in a very subtle way. This also helps them to tap into audience who will probably never play video games and not get enough screen time on TV, iPods and Tablets until after a certain age.

Trick-or-Treat – Target creates Halloween buzz on Instagram

Target and New York-based agency Carrot Creative have launched a virtual trick-or-treat experience on Instagram inspiring viewers to indulge in DIY spirit this Halloween.

The theme is ‘Halloween Hills’ which shows two homes on a hill – one is a trick and the other is a treat. The two houses are tagged to ‘trick’ and ‘treat’ profiles, the user can tap on the their preferred tag and move on to reveal what is the ‘trick’ or ‘treat’.

The “treats” link to Halloween-themed recipes like spider brownies, while the “tricks” go to do-it-yourself projects like a spooky, night-light.

Target_Instagram_HalloweenHills

The campaign involved 15 images with two profiles each showing 30 tutorials and 300 photos for the campaign.

The items used in the DIY profiles can be found in Target stores. To see all the items/creatives search for the campaign hashtag #HalloweenHills. The surprise element is in Trick-or-Treat number 6, where the ‘Bullseye’ mascot is tagged. On clicking the user is taken to the ‘Bullseye’s Closet’ Instagram account where the profile links to the eCommerce enabled site in partnership with Like2Buy.

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With the Bullseye Clost account, Target is reaching out to users who are looking for pet costumes for Halloween, a rage in times of Halloween nowadays.

This is yet another clever way to leverage the available functionality of Instagram’s tagging feature and driving the engaged users within that moment to push sales online. It not only engages the user with this creative execution but also gives them ideas around Halloween that are enjoyable with little efforts in both time and money.

With this out already we hope to see more fun and interesting executions for Xmas in the US, since they are the first market to champion and release bold ideas.

Check out the virtual experience on Target’s Instagram account here http://instagram.com/target

 

Mercedes-Benz – Interactive Instagram Configurator for GLA

To promote the GLA 250 to the millennials, Mercedes-Benz USA and their agency Razorfish launched a social configurator on Instagram.

The Instagram account called ‘Build Your Own GLA’ lets users create their own custom versions of the car. The experience begins from an account where the user is shown only the car and asked to tap along to begin the configuration. The call-to-action (CTA) begins with asking the user to ‘Tap the photo’ to reveal the tags – which are essentially the other Instagram accounts that contain sun information like colors, wheels, etc.

The first step ‘Choose your color’ shows an account full of various shots of the GLA in the available colors. User can simply select the image of their preferred color and continue the experience.

The second step involves selecting a wheel which gives a good close-up of the alloys available.

After choosing the wheel, the user has to select the roof – where again the shots have a great visibility and concentrate only on that aspect of the feature, without forcing the user to look at the whole car over and over again.

The fourth and last step involves selecting the preferred grill. After the grill is selected, the user is moved to a fresh account containing the summary of their configured GLA.

By summary, we mean the image now shows their preferred color, wheel, roof and grills. On tapping the image, the user is congratulated and given the specs first hand eg. the name of the color, the package (e.g. Sports), roof name, etc. with a starting price tag. Furthermore, the user is also asked to take the picture to their nearest dealer. There is a disclaimer in the end listing what is not included and prompting users to contact their MBUSA Instagram account directly for queries, questions etc.

Conclusion

Razorfish can still pull it off. Good to know! Mercedes-Benz is in love with Instagram, as we can see so many executions in different countries using Instagram. It is no wonder that they have championed Instagram in the automotive industry at least. I was honestly expecting Audi to come up with something like this and could have never thought that Mercedes-Benz would end up doing this.

Even though the whole social configurator thing works, there is one small area for improvement. In the last leg of the account, where the user is shown the car – we could have filled up the account with more details e.g. 15 seconds clips showing the car in motion and also each and every image that has been selected could have been shown below the main image as a summary of the end product.

If we don’t want to promote what the user has already selected, this dead space could have been used to promote ‘Accessories’. I bet the after-sales guys would have loved it 😉

There is always room for improvement, but we must not forget that even today in over 90% of digital agencies there would have been enough people on both agency and client side, who would have killed the idea assuming the user won’t go through the long journey and the pain of creating so many accounts and assets. Mercedes-Benz US has overcome doubts as such and once again challenged the creatives in the auto industry. It is always great to see such inspiring work.

Audi – your move! 😉

View the GLA250 Instagram account here http://instagram.com/gla_build_your_own

“The Sound of Porsche: Stories of the brand.”

‘The Sound of Porsche’ is not just about the engines roaring anymore. There is more to it.

Porsche has launched a premium pop-store next to the High Line, Manhattan on 14th Street – yes the meatpacking district where all that cool things happen in NYC right!

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Andre Oosthuizen, VP Marketing for Porsche Cars North America stressed that the aim of the pop-up store is to connect with people in new ways and tell the brand stories via videos. It is more about connecting with the future buyers and attracting people who may find dealer showrooms intimidating or annoying to begin with.

The Media Stations with noise-cancelling Bose Headphones

The media stations offer 16 custom records created by Porsche, which are actually short videos and can be enjoyed with the noise-cancelling Bose QuietComfort headphones. The content of these videos are short films showing Porsche clippings from the racing world, Hollywood and even brand videos on Porsche design DNA with animated sketches.

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Highlights include ‘Electrifying Performance’ and ‘One of Us’ which feature Porsche racecar drivers Mark Webber and Patrick Dempsey, Boris Apenbrink (Porsche enthusiast) featured in ‘Porsche Exclusive – The Most Personal Car’ and Sally Carrera in ‘A Porsche Goes to Hollywood.’

Sound Lab Virtual Drive Experience

The lab is also powered by Bose, where the iconic 911 Carrera 4S Coupe can be experienced virtually through sound and visual mapping, selecting a metropolitan melody (urban drive), country cadence (mountain pass) or racing rhythm (the Nurburgring).

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A virtual drive experience experienced in a store is certainly better than any app or microsite viewed in 3D glasses!

Porsche Design Store and a Design Competition

How can the Porsche pop-up not have any design products for sale and not intrigue you enough to participate in it! There are enough sophisticated Porsche Design products that can be purchased and a ‘blank canvas’ where you can express what the ‘Sound of Porsche’ means to you.

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The designs created in the Design Corner can be uploaded to the social networks with hashtag #SoundsOfPorsche and the best artist will win a trip to the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany (I have been there three times and it is such a beautiful museum).

The Experiential Side of Automotive Brands

In our marketing & communications industry we have been constantly hearing about ‘Experiential’ and brands like ‘Audi’ (with Audi City), ‘Apple’, ‘Tesla’ and ‘Nike’ have been one of the first ones to champion the store/showroom experiences in line with their brand personality and the advanced technology.

Many brands try really hard to transfer and reflect their brand image in a physical atmosphere but fail or end up compromising due to low budgets, lack of good talent or simply because of lack of knowledge when it comes to technology and innovation.

At the end of the day it is all about innovation and staying relevant with the environment around us. This does not mean that the dealerships should die and you should throw all your money into the product development and personal stores but use the knowledge and current available resources to enhance what you have now. A very simple start for this could be to provide iPads/tablets across dealerships and allow visitors to surf your site comfortably, read a bit about the car in peace and then have a dealer interact with you, answer your questions, etc. There is probably already a coffee machine or a small cafe in many of these places, why not leave an iPad there asking people to share their thoughts, experience at the dealership etc. – this way we learn about them and use the real experience to see where we can improve. (This is just an example in the current context of automotive dealerships and pop-up shops).

Of course, I cannot stress enough on placing big-screen PCs or iMac’s where the ‘configurator’ is permanently open. Many marketers don’t feel comfortable putting these up in the dealerships because they feel that the car is already there or assume that people may have checked the configurator online. It is essential to leave a little room for people to explore the product in peace, without constantly having to socialize and small-talk with the dealers. I tried the Nike shoe customizer in their Covent Garden store in London 3 years ago and I still remember and talk about it. Now I am writing about it! Though I did not buy the shoe there and then, I explored it and continued the activity at home with my friends to decide how I should customize my shoe. Then I went in store to speak to the Nike guys, to cross-check some stuff and finally placed my order. Not saying that every user will return to ask for a car but people will surely remember and talk about it!

Furthermore, where possible, the brand partnerships should be revealed in the physical environment too, to enhance the experience. That is exactly what Porsche is doing with Bose. What a great opportunity for Bose to get some recognition in New York where the majority of the city is donning the ‘Beats by Dre’ headphones and hogging all the limelight, thanks to their recent Apple acquisition. Although, secretly I feel that Porsche and ‘Beats by Dre’ make a good team and Bose to me is very BMW or Audi.

Porsche ‘CAN DO’ such initiatives as they have ‘championed’ all the pillars that make their DNA in terms of technology, design, performance, innovation and even brand experiences online (Premium website and social media content) and offline (Premium dealerships and beautiful Porsche Museum). Once your brand is able to champion or strengthen its core product and services, such initiatives are welcomed and work. There is no point providing a premium experiential atmosphere when your site is all clunky, your social media is outdated and your sales and customer service team appears to be disinterested. Every touch point is the face of your brand and it best put on a huge smile, be patient and help the customers decide.

What happened here is that Audi City may have been one of the firsts to provide an enhanced digital experience in store but they did not innovate it further (well not yet). And now we have this beautiful experiential pop-up from Porsche that hits all the sweet spots of what the people are currently enjoying – music, videos and premium design products + a canvas to express themselves. Even if you don’t participate in the competition, you will take some pictures in store and share on your social networks. Who doesn’t know Porsche and who would not want to know what’s going on in this pop-up store?

The Sound of Porsche will be open to the public Sept. 16 through Oct. 5, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

If you are from the Ferrari or Maserati team and reading this – YOUR TURN! Show us what you’ve got!! 😉

Hermès #JeSuisUnCheval

Non, ce n’est pas une blague!

Hermès has surprised us with this video of artists acting like a horse. A majority of bloggers don’t really agree with it and don’t understand why this film is being promoted.

I feel it is a really good way of getting involved in social media and showing a film that unifies ‘art’ and ‘their relationship with the horse’ – giving people something to talk about that is completely ‘on brand’.

Even before the film for social channels, Hermès made their ‘Equestrian’ section on the website more prominent and interesting for the online shoppers by adding a customizer for the saddles.

SaddleCustomizer

Shoppers can customize their saddle, learn about their chosen saddle and even schedule a visit with the specialists to see if it actually fits and meets their needs.

Shopper experience

The steps to complete your custom saddle are apt to not lose the shoppers interest and also value their precious time. There are enough customizers online which try to hard to up-sell and cross promote other products, rather an giving the shopper a quality experience on a product that they are actually showing interest in.

 Step 1 – Choose your discipline and Step 2 – Description

The shoppers can chose what sport they are involved in, which reflects the models available. After selecting the model, the description instantly appears sharing the product details.

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Description

Step 3 – Options

Shoppers can select the colors and sizes and their preferred design details. Options

Clicking on ‘Validate’ completes the customization process and gives an option to ‘Try the custom saddle with the certified Hermès specialists’

Validation

 Trial with the specialist

Here too the steps to schedule an appointment are to-the-point asking shoppers the information necessary for this task and not open up a survey-like-form, binding them to share even more information and taking advantage of their needs i.e. you give us this xyz information, if you want a specialist. A lot of luxury brands go down that route and become greedy for too much information.

Specialist

The personaliser was launched earlier this year and the Equestrian collection features a range of interesting products not just for the riders but even your horse. Spoil yourself here 😉

And to end this post with the main story, here’s how Hermès celebrates their relationship with the horse in their recent eNewsletter. Love it!

The World of Hermes

 

Instagram wars: Nike vs Adidas

Adidas Originals. That’s the first tag line that struck me when I saw this new Adidas campaign on Instagram. How not original it is for me and here’s why.

NIKE – Nike PhotoiD Powered by NikeiD for Instagram – featuring the Airmax

Nike has already kicked up a super cool and simple idea involving Instagram, which preserves their product and extends the NikeiD aspect of allowing users to select their best shoe color configuration.

How it works?

Choose your Instagram photo and a Nike shoe. Check out the design configuration the algorithm serves and share your favorite shoe online with your friends. Not just that, it also shows the image you selected in the background and what Nike shoe color selection you finally ended up selecting.

The Photo ID Microsite has a Gallery where you can filter images using the following parameters e.g. by Color and the Airmax model 1, 90 and 95 models. Not just that, it also allows you to see what your followers have shared online, besides checking out the entire Instagram community and the featured ones. It is as simple as it can be in terms of hooking up your Instagram account and getting involved and also a simple UX on the site to engage with the community.

Nike_Instagram

Adidas, on the other hand, is trying too hard and creating a buzz on its upcoming app.

How it will work?

Adidas Photo Print App for ZX Flux will launch this August for the iOS and Android users. Customers will have to buy a pair of the ZX Flux sneakers on which the Instagram photo will be printed.

What we need to question here is the fact that what audience is Adidas actually trying to engage here and what do they really think of their products?

Seriously this is original in terms of the amount of unique designs that will come through, but not sure how many of these iPhone and Android users qualify as characters who would want to walk around with a ‘shoe’ imprinted with their Instagram image.

Imagine how ugly it can get in cases where the users don’t know what ugly pictures they are taking and how it can actually damage the product in the long run. Imagine the Adidas marketing manager walking around the high-street and looks at some cool kids wearing the ZX Flux showing pizzas, sushi, burgers, selfies, random psychedelic stuff. What is worse is when these images show the logos of any other brands on the shoe. Free advertising for them on a shoe they would probably never want to be seen on and Adidas in return ending up with a cheesy product among chavs with no taste on the streets of Britain at least.

Internet is calling this a game-changing app – yes of course, an app that will change what Adidas stands for, for the current generation on Instagram for the first time and sneakers just became the cool thing for them and also generate a not-so-positive-with-awe word-of-mouth for Adidas by their loyal customers all these years. Thanks to the ‘photo print app’ shoes that no one wanted all these years, irrespective of the fact that Instagram made them do it. Kodak has been printing pictures on many objects and there is a reason that shoes have stayed from this category among the masses.

Waiting for the action to kick up in August 2014 and see how the Internet reacts to this. Brace yourselves, some really ugly shoes are coming!