If the internet has shown the motor industry one thing, it’s this: once something has become a trend then it is already too late to take any useful advantage from it. To run a successful campaign on the web requires some of that famous blue-sky, left field, off-the-wall thinking much beloved of training consultants and media gurus everywhere. In short – you’ve got to come up with it first, and in the last year Mini have done just that by taking that which was online, offline. In October 2010 the Mini Getaway campaign took place in Stockholm, offering the opportunity to win a Mini Countryman. This was a unique social media game, like a treasure hunt, and Stockholmers could download an app to take part. Users could view the location of a virtual Mini on a map of the city, hurtle around town and once within 50 metres of the virtual prize, could claim the car for themselves and then run away from the other participants shown on the map who could try and steal it. At the end of a week, the person with the virtual Mini won a real one. The campaign was a huge success, with 11,413 people taking part in the game. Now that’s good local publicity which went viral as people in over 90 countries watched it all unfold. How great is that? A real Mini adventure. In December last year it was the turn of Tokyo where the gaming area was 32 times larger than the Swedish city.
Inevitably, Stockholm spawned similar events. Britain had it’s Citroen DS4 Seekers and there’s currently the ongoing Mercedes Benz ‘Escape the Map’ game where a beautiful girl is trapped in a Merc C63 and must escape from Streetview before it pixelates her face! Competitors who successfully answer some interactive challenges are entered into a draw to win a car. This has got to be great publicity and, to be honest, it’s probably the only chance of many of us getting our hands on a C350 Coupe. These events are fun and demonstrate that marketing doesn’t have to intrude on people’s lives, it can also integrate into them. There are some clever folk out there who understand that social media doesn’t have to be fully online to deliver real consumer experiences that challenge the norm.
Today’s car industry is fully aware of the possibilities of social media marketing and have, as above, started doing their own dedicated campaigns to aid sales or repackage their image. It’s also a great way to attract new fans to a brand. Over a period of time, the Internet has been playing a key role in influencing potential car buyers, particularly young people. In a bid to offer the best possible exposure to its products companies are seeking to create the buzz but the key here has got to be originality. Whoever is first with new and innovative ad campaigns will always be ahead of the game. Anything else is just playing catch-up.