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Automotive Digital Marketing Case Studies: 5 Times Automotive Brands Totally Nailed It

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Digital Marketing has grown to become and all-encompassing field of business in itself, in a very short span of the time, thanks to its effectiveness and measurability. The fast growth has also baffled marketers around the world into how to harness its power rightly and to deploy it for their brand campaigns. The dynamism doesn’t help either.

Marketers working in Automobile industry find themselves in a tricky space when it comes to using Digital Marketing for their benefits. Automobile is a segment which is not consumed or bought over digital as much as some other segments. Purchasing an automobile is a high stakes and high value decision which buyers often take after thorough on-ground research and after experiencing the real product.

This, however, hasn’t stopped automobile marketers from flexing their creative muscles and from coming up with unique campaigns to promote their brands, from time to time.

In this article, I’ll share five case studies where global automobile majors have utilized Digital Marketing to drive their campaigns and have nailed it while doing so. These case studies are proof that if you understand your audience well, you can make any marketing channel work in your favor.

Automotive Digital Marketing Case Studies

Don’t believe us? Check this case study about Audi’s Digital Showroom.

Read on…

1.) McLaren Calls to the Geeky Side for Launching their new Spider

  • Idea

What do you do when you need to create buzz about a supercar launch on digital platforms but people don’t really buy supercars online? Never mind how established and desired the brand might be.

That’s exactly the problem that McLaren’s marketing team faced when they wanted to extend the launch campaign of Mclaren Spider to digital platforms too. They decided to experiment with their approach and came up with a simple solution in terms of communication strategy to optimize the usage of the platform.

Q: How do you get fans engaged with your offering which most of them will (probably) never be able to afford?

Ans: appeal to the geeky side of digital media users.

They hit the sweet spot with this one and took their chances with their hopes pinned on appealing to the geeky side of users on digital media.

  • Execution

Laced with an exciting idea on their hands, McLaren released a series of some amazing technical shots as teasers, to create an excitement and generate curiosity around its Spider model. The teasers received great feedback and created positive buzz around the brand.

Following this, Mclaren launched a supercool video highlighting the car’s aerodynamic features. The video was produced using wind tunnel effects and placed the brand very subtly. Watch the video to witness the coolness:

McLaren vs Aerodynamics

A capture from McLaren vs Aerodynamics video

Mclaren also integrated a Car Configurator for the users who were progressing towards purchase. This Car Configurator allowed users to play around hundred of options to create a custom experience for their dream car. Afterall, if you’re planning to buy a supercar and going to shell out insane amounts of your hard earned money on it, it better be perfect to your liking, isn’t it?

Looks like, McLaren understands its fans quite well.

  • Results

The marketing team of McLaren seeded all the communication material virally and eventually reached out successfully to their subscriber base of over 108K. The McLaren vs Aerodynamics video reached out to lacs of fans and got shared over and over again within the interested communities, gaining a life of its own.

The real impact of the campaign surfaced when McLaren was able to get real leads and real prospects for a supercar purchase through the campaign. Not to mention how the campaign helped McLaren as a brand to grow its overall web and social media presence helping it for long-term.

2.) Tata Vista claims to be “Clearly Ahead” in it’s Digital Marketing Campaign

  • Idea

An age-old method of putting your brand ahead of your competitors is to release direct comparisons. Though it’s not a widely accepted and politically correct way of marketing your brand against your competition, some brands still foray into this from time to time, especially in the times of desperation.

Tata Vista’s “Clearly Ahead” campaign

This is what Tata Vista decided to do with its “Clearly Ahead” digital marketing campaign, back in 2012.

In this campaign, to promote it’s hatchback category model Tata Vista, the marketing team directly pitched the brand against the second largest selling and one of the most popular brands in the category – Maruti Swift.

  • Execution

They launched a micro-site that showcased the visitors direct comparison between Tata Vista and Maruti Swift on various parameters and features.

Some of the comparison parameters were unmatched performance, unmatched interiors, unmatched features, unmatched space and unmatched price etc. The obvious objective was showcase Tata Vista as the clear winner ahead of its competitor.

  • Results

The website provided the finishing touches to the marketing communication with a pie chart that outlined online mentions and sentiments for both the car models, as a method to measure the campaign impact.

According to the brand, Tata Vista enjoyed 42% positive mentions across online media as against the 37% for Maruti Swift. Also, the negative mentions were much less compared with its competitor.

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3.) Nano and MTV Take Fans on “India’s First Social Trip” 

  • Idea

Tata Nano has been a pioneer in many ways right from its own inception. Not only the car was a first-of-its-kind but its marketing also has matched its uniqueness.

Tata Nano and MTV’s “The Social Road Trip” Campaign

As early as in 2012, to celebrate over 1 million fan base, Tata Nano’s marketing team came up with the concept of merging the worlds of Digital and Offline marketing with its campaign “India’s First Social Trip”, in association with MTV. 

Tata Nano and MTV partnered together to create a unique driving experience across the roads of India. To leverage the massive online footprint that the brands already enjoyed, they created an immersive campaign for their users with a 21-day, 2000 km exciting drive in a Tata Nano. 

  • Execution

The campaign kick-started with the launch of a micro-site on MTV’s official website calling for entries to register for the drive. A dedicated Facebook Fan Page and a Twitter handle were also launched for the campaign.

Tata Nano, MTV and their online fans selected 4 final teams for this drive representing 4 zones of country, each comprising of 4 members each. 4 popular MTV VJs led each team in this drive.

Each team was supposed to cover 4 different routes in 20 days overcoming various tasks and obstacles along the way. The teams also had to earn money to cover their drive.

  • Results

Social Media Sentiment

Social Media played an important role throughout the campaign. The teams kept on sharing live updates via their posts, photos, video and updates. Fans were consistently engaged through the drive via social media. They could vote their favorite teams and they could track the whole journey via their direct updates. This led to consistent and deep fan engagement across channels.

Within 2 weeks of going live, the official Facebook page for the drive amassed some 1,50,000 excited fans. The engagement number were shooting close to 80,000 of them actively talking about the campaign on the page during the drive.

4.) Citroën lets Fans Design “World’s first Crowdsourced Car” 

  • Idea

Why is this car designed like this?

If only the back was a bit shapely, this car would have looked great.

I wish I could get my favorite color in this model. Why don’t car makers give more color options?

The car looks great but what about the power?

When you go out shopping for a new car, it always seems like a daunting task. You want to buy the perfect car and finally you have the budgets to get your dream wheels in your parking lot. But there is always something that’s left to wishful thinking.

Sometimes you feel like, you could help the team design the car so that they would make it closer to your liking. Wouldn’t that be so awesome?

Enter Citroën’s Facebook campaign – “You Like It, We Make It.

  • Execution

Well, it’s no longer wishful thinking as long as the car is Citroën C1 Connexion. Yep, it’s true.

Citroën C1 Connexion is the world’s first crowdsourced car. Facebook fans have decided how their Citroën C1 Connexion would be designed.

The marketing folks at Citroën and their agency Brandwidth ran the crowdsourcing campaign on Facebook and invited the fans to contribute to the design of the new model.

Here’s the simple video released for the campaign : You Like It, We Make It.

This was an excellent engagement campaign to reach out to brand fans in real-time. Fans could share all their desired features that they wanted in their perfect car.

  • Results

Citroën got its new model as a result of the campaign : Citroën C1 Connexion.

Citroën hit the right spot with this campaign. It ticked all the right marks for a building a great campaign. It was buzzworthy, it was engaging, it had a direct Call-to-Action for its users, it involved the fans in the brand journey, it created an emotional connect and above all, it called out to a real desire for car buyers. Whoever came up with the insight was spot on.

All metrics for brand’s social media engagement shot through the roof owing to this campaign. Citroën received a staggering 24,000 different version of the car model that were submitted by the fans. Not to mention, the immense buzz the campaign created around the brand, making it a trending topic on digital platforms and search results.

The best part was that Citroën managed to sell over 500 real cars as a result of this campaign. Now, isn’t that the ultimate nirvana of any marketing campaign?

5.) Auto Trader lets Twitterati decide the fate of SEAT Mii

  • Idea

Using awe-inspiring stunts to create buzz around new launches is a time-tested marketing technique. It’s especially useful for action-oriented categories like cars. Whether these gimmicky methods should be regulated or not, remains debatable. But what’s not debatable is their deep impact.

How does a car brand use their experience in Stunt Marketing to create a splash on Digital platforms?

This was probably the guiding statement for the marketing team of Auto Trader working on the launch of SEAT Mii.

The idea was execute a shocking public stunt for SEAT Mii in such a way that it can drive engagement on Social Media. Auto Trader wanted to truly involve the social media users into the brand.

  • Execution

SEAT Mii hanging over Thames River

Auto Trader decided to hang a SEAT Mii above Thames river at the height of 35 meters and launched a Twitter campaign to decide its fate.

Twitterati was supposed to express their positive or negative sentiment using the branded hashtag #winMiiwithAT. The positive sentiment would help raise the car and the negative sentiment would lower the hanging car towards the river throughout the day.

One of the users stood the chance to win the car. Yeah, the ultimate hook to make a campaign successful.

Shocking? Check.

Buzzworthy? Check.

Awe-inspiring? Check.

Engaging? Check.

Direct user involvement? Check.

Lucrative hook? Check.

Drives the message? Check.

The campaign checked all the desired parameters for Auto Trader and the results vouched for the effectiveness.

  • Results

Over 12,000 Tweeters used the brand hashtag #winMiiwithAT to express their sentiments about the car. The positive and negative sentiments kept lowering or raising the car throughout the day, keeping the buzz and the interest going.

The campaign also drove approximately 14M visitors to brand’s various digital properties, making it a buzzing trend across platforms throughout the day. Not to mention the amazing free press coverage Auto Trader managed to get for the stunt.

And yes, one lucky user won the fateful car, too.

Have you come across any such Digital Marketing campaign that has created a splash and drove amazing results for its brand?

Let us know in your comments.

Image Courtesy : GoaOnWheels, SocialSamosa, Twitter

About the Author

Ritu Jhajharia
Founder – Rolling Circle Pvt Ltd | Communications Consultant | Aspiring Writer

Ritu has dabbled into various roles across functions in marketing, brand management, communication, public relations, content management, consulting, technology & entrepreneurship for over a decade.

She is currently working as a full-time entrepreneur heading her venture Rolling Circle Pvt Ltd, an Integrated Marketing Communications firm. She likes to help growing start-ups with marketing strategy and thought leadership via content. She likes to write on various topics, is a successful blogger and is an avid traveler.

  • Digital-Marketing


  • There is 1 comment


    • 2 months ago

      Navneet Rao   /   Reply

      Nice informative blog & thanks for sharing such a blog.

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