I noticed much more enthusiasm at the industry preview and press week, which was held during the North American International Auto Show. I went to multiple events where forced optimism from the previous couple of years was replaced with genuine excitement and positivity. On Thursday, January 12, I finally walked the show floor. The cars look great this year, but that isn't why I went. I had a subversive motive for walking the floor this year. I wanted to see how each OEM ranked in their NAIAS digital marketing and advertising efforts.
Before I go on explaining the details, I have to admit that I was generally disappointed. Most of the OEMs didn't take the time to put interactivity and consumer outreach first... errr second - behind the cars of course. Regardless, I was not-so-silently judging everyone's displays and testing them for the amount of interactivity to hold the attention of perusers and shoppers alike. Then, I judged the quality and number of opportunities the displays gave the company to contact the shopper of interest. In this category, a score of a facepalm would be kind.
Everyone! Everyone except my two stars, which you'll see later. There were, however, some particularly disappointing displays that must be pointed out - not to admonish - but as a learning opportunity for us all.
First, I was very disappointed in Chevrolet. They had a fantastic display, showcasing their new entrants into the market, the Spark and the Sonic. You would think Chevrolet would create some kind of mechanism to capture the names, emails, addresses, shoe sizes - something - of the passers-by that were interested in these models. No! Well, maybe they did but I'll never know because the one set of screens near the models didn't work! Don't believe me? Notice the picture below, how I'm touching the screen and nothing is happening.
Hey, but at least they tried. Dodge has the Dart coming out and didn't even make an attempt at getting my information. I was at that display for almost 10 minutes and never found a way to give up my info. Serously? Come on, guys! This is almost as egregious as On-Star's display of a giant Droid that showed off the telematics systems, but has no way of recording information. Very cool, but kind of a waste of time from the OEM's perspective.
Next, we had the obligatory racing games. Great. This experiential marketing stunt is certainly fine, but it does nothing to move an organization further up the consideration set. I counted at least four of these games and I'm sure I missed a couple. They ARE fun, and they do keep people at the display, but at none of them was I requested to give up my info to ride. I just got cheap thrills, then went on about my business.
Lastly, I have to talk about the rest of the companies that made no attempt. I'm looking at you, industry. Digital kiosks were obviously available, but they were not used properly by most companies at the show. Most of them were basically digital brochures and window stickers. That is the airball from the free throw line of missed opportunities.
Ford and Hyundai beat the competition, by far, in promoting interactivity while also making sure that they had an opportunity to follow up. Let's talk about how each organization accomplished this with marketing technology.
Ford placed QR Codes on a window of every car. So what if they just went to the Ford website for that vehicle? They worked, and people were snapping them all day. They followed that up with kiosks that allowed the visitor to swipe a card they received from the Ford main booth. To get the card, you had to fill out some info on a computer. It took me about 37.3 seconds to do that, then I was off swiping away, giving Ford all kinds of data about vehicles I liked, which they linked back to my personal profile I set up earlier.
A few of them didn't work so well, but for the most part, I now have this great profile of vehicles of interest at a website linked to my own Blue Oval Card.
Ford also catered to their visitors with an elevated movie theater called Cloud Journey, that shows a video of Ford's new vision for Sync. You can also use your Blue Oval Card to swipe the kiosk so you can download the video at home and post to your Facebook. I have to say, this was an excellent use of tech to better market their vehicles.
Lastly, we have Hyundai. They got into this group for one main reason; they had a giveaway associated with their display. At one of the kiosks, a shopper could sign up to win a $500 Apple products gift card. I thought it was an ingenious way to take down information. As you go through signing up for the gift card, Hyundai asks some questions about (Hyundai) vehicles you're interested in learning more about and takes down some personal information so they can contact you later. I got an email on my smartphone within an hour of signing up.
Hyundai also kept their visitors engaged with some other cool technology, like a driving simulator and an interesting video center, telling each shopper more about Hyundai's Blue Link telematics/infotainment system. Even though they didn't spend as much money as some, they took advantage of their resources and made it a priority to be able to communicate with potential buyers, post show.
Anyone see any marketing tech that I missed?
Posted by Therran Oliphant, Product Marketing Manager, Polk (01.20.2012)