“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!! 😉

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BMW and Volkswagen Stories

BMW and Volkswagen are actively using user generated content and crowd sourcing to break away from the usual brand and product stories. I think it is spot on and about time that brands like BMW and Volkswagen, who have such a large and loyal base of audience, involve their fans and owners and give them a platform to express their ‘story’, their ‘experience’ and their ‘voice’. Technology today gives brands such a great advantage to involve their audience and leverage their voice to enhance brand campaigns.

BMW’s global campaign called ‘BMW Stories’ and Volkswagen’s ’40 years Golf’ and ‘The Peoples Film’ campaigns are great examples currently in the automotive category involving a broad range of audience.

BMW STORIES

BMW’s International website and most of the local market websites are running the ‘BMW Stories’ campaign. Owners, fans and enthusiasts are encourage to share what BMW means to them and how it is a part of their life, what memories they share with BMW and would love to share these stories, experiences & opinions. To make your story appear on the site, all the users have to do is add the hashtag #BMWStories to their content, which can be in the form of a video, quote or images shared over the key social networks currently Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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The clever part of this campaign is that BMW is putting these ‘Stories’ where information on the other models is also promoted. Story telling aspect is not just left to the fans but BMW also actively participates in it. i8 model is used as a halo for the BMWi Range and they share interesting stories under the title ‘Pioneering Stories’ showing a range of films on the i8 model. Pioneering Stories even include the racing stories on ‘Alessandro Zanardi’ and a few selected behind-the-scenes, internal films and fans experience with the i8. There is a separate social stream for ‘Pioneering Stories’ which are picked up via an additional hashtag #pioneer in addition to the #BMWStories.

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After the BMWi range, the BMW X range is promoted aggressively with selected films focusing on ‘dynamic performance’. This is topped by an even exciting video going viral currently on the 2 Series Coupe M235i called the ‘BMW DriftMob’ – directed by the Hollywood stunt expert Mic Rodgers (Google him now!). The video is currently the feature story on the site showing the main film (see below) and behind-the-scenes stories. It definitely adds a lot of ‘punch’ and ‘attitude’ to ‘the BMW Brand’ and encourages people to add their stories all the more – giving off energy and a ‘just do it’ attitude. Not only that, it is trying very hard to appeal to the 2 and 3 series segment audience to consider them over Audi. The call-to-action sends viewers right to the configurator to visualize and learn about all the features available or to the detail page for those who want to read before they take any other serious action showing interest in the model.

The film has received about 12K likes on the BMW Global Facebook fan page.

BMW Facebook Post

The campaign is supported by social media posts, online banners and eNewsletters and this viral is surely going to leave the auto enthusiasts with a ‘hangover!’

Volkswagen ‘4o Years Golf’

Volkswagen’s ’40 Years Golf’ is an even richer story telling experience online as per the title, as it allows Volkswagen to tell the story via a timeline.

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The timeline is in a grid format showing a range of beautifully designed and placed static and animated visuals. The interactive timeline allows viewers to learn facts, answer a question, watch a video, listen to sound clip, enlarge an image, read a story and share the content online via Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The icons like ‘settings’, ‘star’ and ‘number 1 badge’ share interesting facts from the respective year adding an element of surprise. Storytelling is very much ‘owned’ by Volkswagen and they are sharing what they ‘would like us to know’.

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However, this is not the case for ‘The Peoples Film’ campaign in New Zealand.

‘The Peoples Film’ is a campaign solely dedicated to the owners and their stories are at the heart of the campaign – in fact, they are the champions of the campaign and not a particular model. The video shows a time lapse of the owners and models till date and looks so natural –  it does not try to sell you anything. It purely celebrates ‘the drivers’ of Volkswagen over 60 years and shows how each generation enjoyed the Volkswagen days. The website is also pretty simple and shows the main content that is a part of the campaign. There is not a single image of the latest model being promoted in New Zealand – a very refreshing approach to let the drivers of Volkswagen be the heroes here and a subtle call-to-action to explore the range is shown, as a standard approach. To add your story, all you have to do it share your local New Zealand region, the model of your car and the year. The story can be shared via a video or image and drivers can leave some comments about their story. Once the story is accepted and approved, the driver’s name is added to the list with their model name and year.

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The Facebook post promoting the campaign is very well written with a subtle tone of voice, thanking the drivers and celebrating their contribution over 60 years.

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#ThrowBackThursday on my blog – ‘Porsche Everyday’ microsite

Storytelling via user generated content, owned content and crowd sourcing is a pie everyone is trying to own and champion. Even though Porsche has not updated its ‘Porsche Everyday’ website – made in 2011 – it is still winning in terms of the online experience and user experience is pretty valid as per the online behavior today.

The landing page begins with a beautiful message – the call-to-action and purpose of this website.

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When the site loads, you are given various options – to read about stories from different topics like ‘Magic’, ‘All Weather’, ‘Comfort’, ‘Usability’, ‘Safety’ and ‘Efficiency’ – clever way to label them from a benefit/feature point of view. The side bar allows you to chose what story you want to see from the main subject of interest – it could be an ‘Everyday Story’, ‘Heritage Story’ or ‘Product Story’.

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On selecting the story of interest, it opens up as a pop-up and also shows what related stories are available under ‘See more’ below the content and even ‘LIKE’ and ‘SHARE’ them online.

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Stories can also be filtered model wise. There is also an option to upload your own story in form of a video or an image.

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Even though we see 4 different cases here, we learn that it is absolutely important to respect the interface design ethics in digital and cut the clutter out. A lot of brands desperately try to add too much information and too many buttons on the site. That does not help and leaves the people confused. And when using user generated content, it is absolutely essential to ensure that the user is made the hero of the site and the campaign, and not let the product steal the limelight – there should be enough room to intrigue the users to find out more at their own pace and area of interest.

I think BMW should stop adding content at this stage on their BMW Stories website – it is pretty content heavy and there are various themes on the page. Volkswagen 40 years is pretty empty and could have been enriched with some owners stories in a more detailed way. The Peoples Film is absolutely brilliant and the film is really very nice. The effort that people have made to share content is purely acknowledged. Porsche website may not be working for some of you right now, but if you are a savvy internet user, you may agree that even today the 2011 created website is winning in multiple ways. Of course we cannot directly compare, but it is a good benchmark to follow….I know the site is in Flash 😉 We are all happy to see HTML5 aren’t we. Porsche’s webs specials have significantly improved. I hope Porsche refresh this website sometime soon or launch a brand new version that will still stand out in 2017 😉

I bet if Lamborghini opens this ‘Share your story’ door – we will see some really interesting and unforgettable stories. Hope you enjoyed these for the time being!

Porsche Blind Trade

Porsche ‘Blind Trade’ does not guarantee a Porsche for everyone. That’s the dare. So are people brave enough to let go of their current luxury car and blind trade it for a possibility to get a Porsche? Yes, seems  like there are many of them out there. Internet tells me around 2000+ people traded-in their car in the first few hours only, gambling to win a Porsche.

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The campaign microsite reveals a new feature of the Porsche every 2 days and will be live for at least 3 weeks until the reveal – announcing the winner on the 31st March’14 who will proudly walk away with a brand new Porsche and converted into a loyal customer on that very day.

The site is in Dutch only and because I can understand some Dutch, I am able to navigate around and it is pretty simple. Not many pages and simple user interface. Social search is also optimised and there is good background music as well. Even though the site has really dark colors as opposed to the white and clean look and feel of Porsche, a fine and intact design like this with minimum call-to-actions and an interactive user experience do the job just right to deliver a premium luxury website experience. Check it out for yourself on http://www.porscheblindtrade.nl/

 

Cars can be 3D Printed now

Porsche and Honda are providing their fans with 3D printing files of their models. Yes! You can now print your very own model at home (if you have a 3D printer) and show off your geeky side with a bit of a taste!

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Porsche USA, released printing data of ‘Cayman S’ for you to get creative with it. Just print the model and colorize it as per your taste. And once you are done, don’t just stop there – take a picture of that model and hashtag it #3DCayman and fire it up as a Tweet, Facebook post or on Instagram. Glad to see how thought through this is by Porsche, they give you the 3D printing data & ask you to share it with a marketing hashtag. Love their marketing team!

But wait, I sense something here.

1) The first thing that came to my mind was, if they are doing this with Cayman, what about 911? May be they have some really awesome plans? Well I really hope they do….I know Cayman is a bloody awesome car but why not the 911? This could only mean one thing to me that Porsche wanted to test how the 3D Cayman S 3D printer fun comes along and use the learning’s before even touching the sensitive 911 territory. People worship 911, you have to be careful with every move you make with the 911.

2) What was Porsche actually expecting from this experiment? Not many people have 3D printers and its awareness is quite low outside of the US. This somehow gives me a vague idea that it was an experiment by Porsche to get a sense of the market and adaptation rate of the 3D printer engagement among the youth.

Instagram shows really poor stats but Twitter has good results. You’ll just have to click through and follow on to read more about it.

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May be I am just over thinking here. But I do tend to because I am the child of the marketing industry and with the explosion of so many devices and techie innovative stuff, it makes me wonder. There are a few car brands that are close to my heart, Porsche being one of them, hence the concern. By the way Porsche has removed the web page from their US site and too bad they are not following up on engagement here.

Honda

Honda – The Power of Dreams. Japanese origin. Connect the dots – Here we have an automaker originating from Japan, the playground of technology and their claim with Honda is the power of dreams. Power to get your hands on the 3D printer data of Honda Concept Cars and print these concept cars at home.

The files for five concept car models – Fuya-Jo, FSR Concept, Kiwami, Puyo and the NSX Concept – can be downloaded from honda-3d.com – published under the Creative Commons 4.0 license.

Well good idea but a poor website. The homepage is so bright and the text is barely readable in terms of the font contrast and size. How tiny and cramped is that text?!

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The main page is not friendly either. There is an animated film playing in the background with awful sound and completely distracting from reading yet another faint copy that is convincing me to download the 3D printer data. But geeks don’t care right, they will download it anyway and fire up a 3D model 😉 But the ‘View the 3D page’ is super awesome. You can explore in 360 and the NSX Concept looks really very very cool!

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Honda should have encouraged people to share their art work with a hashtag or given them an opportunity to upload their work on to a site. But thanks to the power of social media #honda3D hashtag is already showing some interesting. Love this green NSX 3D model.
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To sum it up, this is a great and fun initiative from Porsche and Honda. I am really waiting to see what the Lamborghini, Aston Martin and Jaguar 3D printed models will look like. Why these three, because their muscles are so detailed and what fun will it be to print their 3D versions, hold it in your hands and appreciate the mind blowing design. See it is just not the same as holding a clay model or a mini toy car. 3D printer has a special thing of its own.

Some day we will be able to actually 3D print vehicle at home and that day my friends, is really far away! In the meantime enjoy 3D printing or following Porsche and Honda’s 3D news online.

Porsche – 5 million reasons to celebrate!

They have done it again. They will not stop. They are celebrating their success. They know how to do it. They know how to do it over and over again. They make it better. They do it right. They involve the Porsche lovers. They give them a share of voice. They are taking a bold step. They are bold. Right here, on their Facebook fan page tab. The future of this Porsche model is in your hands and yes we all know that we better get this one right.

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Crowd-sourcing on Facebook

Porsche has recently earned the attention of 5 million Facebook fans. Not a small number and worth an investment. Porsche is all ears to their fans and have let them hold their hand to create a very special ‘911 Carrera 4S’.

The first car being built on Facebook with a top-line configuration making it easy for 5 million fans to participate.

Every week, a voting takes place to define the detailed car spec. Fans are giving a choice to vote for their favorite feature and the highest voted feature wins. Fans are given about a week to participate and vote and a timer runs on the next feature tab to indicate when the next round of voting for the new feature will be unlocked.

I love the beginning. The first decision: Exterior Color opening starts with ‘Our 911 Carrera 4 needs a unique look.’ Porsche trusts their 5 million fans to give their car a unique look.

It gets better. For the 2nd decision: Wheels, Porsche state ‘….and help us choose the looks of the 911 Carrera 4S.’

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One may think I am stressing too much about the copy here. Well these details matter because the consumer is your wife and you better show some respect and make her special as you are asking her to make your life better! If you want to get the best out of your fans, you give them that platform and the tone that gives them power and keeps it simple, sophisticated and humble!

For platform, of course Facebook fan page is the right platform but not just that, even the design is very well thought through. There is no clutter, the car looks super fabulous with that angle, the application has not crashed so far (I have tested it in different browsers and taken various screenshots at different times for this post), it is fast, it is playing up on the ‘less is more’ theory and is totally doing the same i.e. getting the most out of this crowd-sourcing stunt for less, with the least number of steps in the least amount of time and even less features for fans to worry about. But what they don’t want the less of here are votes!!

It is not every day that we get an opportunity to participate in shaping the next beautiful car made by the most passionate luxury car brand and that too on Facebook! So go ahead and vote if you are a Porsche fan and if you are not, what are you doing? Leave a mark on that car now!! https://www.facebook.com/porsche/app_467380643310069

Porsche 911 Projection Mapping

The Porsche center in Padova, Italy has created a beautiful projection on the new Porsche 911. I enjoyed watching this video so much online, I can only imagine how awesome it must be to experience it live.

Apparently, it has been done by an authorized Porsche dealer at an event and I must praise the interest and creativity put in creating this projection. The soundtrack and the projection theme build up and generate an interest where using a 911 car as a projection screen seems to be limited but the overall projection has come out great with the various emotional touches to the theme.

Awesome Luxury Cars!

One of the best collection of luxury cars photography I have seen in a very long time! Best shots of best cars in London! Don’t miss it http://thomasmein.tumblr.com/