On Sept. 7, 2010, Bentley unveiled the newly redesigned 2011 Continental GT model on its website. Apart from a teaser clip, the first redesign of the legendary sedan could only be viewed during a one week-long web unveiling (accessible from here). The actual car will be shown during the 2010 Paris Motor Show next month.
Starting on September 7, the public reveal of the 2011 Bentley Continental GT was hosted on a microsite devoted to the vehicle.
Although the teaser clip garnered a lot of attention for the brand and the car, the post-unveiling buzz for the online event has been barely a fraction of what it had been beforehand, judging by web search, and by additional searches on social networks. A handful of articles and tweets can be found regarding the design changes, but there does not appear to be much regarding the web-streamed unveiling event.
Bentley is not a first mover in the auto industry in terms of generating pre-release hype using digital means. Consider the recent Honda CR-Z promo on Car Town – a Facebook-based game targeted toward autofiends. Also, earlier this summer, Ford launched its 2011 Explorer on Facebook via an all-day event. Then we saw the highly successful VW GTI launch from October 2009, which was done solely via iPhone app, and 2009’s Ford Fiesta campaign, which involved 100 “social agents” who recorded and virtually shared their monthly Ford-assigned adventures involving their Fiestas.
So, how is it that Ford, Honda and VW’s digitally supported campaigns got people talking for a long time, while the buzz surrounding the Bentley unveiling died as soon as the event took place?
The answer lies in one simple marketing term: Customer Interaction.
While all other campaigns involved interaction with (potential) customers or buzz-generators, the Bentley unveiling simply featured a streaming video. Once the live unveiling had taken place, all that remained for those interested was an approximately three-minute-long clip summarizing the launch, including views of assembly of the set, shots of the interior, and of various angles of the car, with special emphasis upon its grille. As a result, almost all post-unveiling buzz for the car has involved discussion of the redesigned features with no mention of the online webcast.
Let’s quickly examine the interaction involved in the aforementioned Honda, Ford and VW examples:
1. Honda CR-Z Sports Hybrid – To promote the launch of this model, Honda utilized Car Town, a Facebook-based game where users can purchase cars and store their collections in virtual garages or use them to take road trips, participate in races and complete challenges that earn them currency/rewards allowing them to purchase even more vehicles. While virtually cruising in the vehicle, users are made aware of features such as fuel efficiency as well as the car’s ability to withstand various weather conditions. This had Car Town’s 3.5-million user base (as reported in August 2010) abuzz about the CR-Z.
Honda’s campaign for its new CR-Z features the hybrid vehicle in billboards on display in Car Town, a virtual game on Facebook.
2. Ford Explorer – Though relatively simple as compared to the other examples we are discussing, the 2011 Explorer involved an event-filled all-day launch, which included pre-event discussions with Ford CEO Alan Mulally as well as live chats with the designers, engineers, program managers and VP of sustainability, environment and safety. The campaign surpassed its goal of 30,000 fans even before the unveiling. (See related article on Mashable for details.)
The automaker used the Ford Explorer Facebook Page to generate excitement in anticipation of the all-day vehicle reveal event on July 26, 2010.
3. VW GTI – The most impressive of all is AKQA’s iPhone- and iPad-only app to promote the GTI. One week and approximately 4.3-million downloads after its launch, Real Racing GTI became the No. 1 app in 36 countries. The app invited users to race the GTI on the app, competing with their own scores and worldwide top-recorded scores by encouraging them to post their racing videos online. This contributed heavily to its popularity.
Giveaways to top scorers included four free limited edition GTIs, and a range of VW products. The campaign led to an 81 percent increase in GTI test drives and an 84 percent increase in quote requests, despite no use of print, broadcast or online banners. View an AKQA summary clip here.
A view of Real Racing GTI, an iPhone app promoting the VW GTI.
4. Ford Fiesta – The Ford Fiesta campaign kicked off with a contest inviting candidates to send in a short video clip describing why they should be a Fiesta social agent. Of all applicants, 100 chosen social agents were given a free Fiesta. They would be required to share via social media, videos of a Ford-assigned trip or adventure that they would undertake on a monthly basis with family or friends. Buzz spread as these 100 individuals, and those they brought along, began sharing the videos on a consistent per-month basis across YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and so on. Watch a video of social agent Bliss Dennen from Chicago whose monthly mission was to drive to, and take a class at the Trapeze School New York.
Bliss Dennen was one of 100 social agents who participated in the Fiesta Movement.
Let’s also not forget an obvious, binding thread among these four campaigns – the fact that their target consumers were tech-savvy and socially connected online. Can the same be said for the typical Continental GT consumer?
Regardless of the lack of attention garnered by its online reveal, the second-generation 2011 Bentley Continental GT will no doubt make a splash when it is introduced at the 2010 Paris Auto Show in about a week’s time. Other high-profile launches taking place at this show include the 2011 Lotus Elite, the 2010 Citroen-Lacoste concept car and Lamborghini’s (rumored) 83X concept car.
- 2011 Continental GT reveal film
- 2010 Paris Motor Show site
- Car Town on Facebook
- Honda Takes Social Gaming for a Test Drive; Mashable, 8.29.10
- Inside the 2011 Ford Explorer Facebook Reveal; Mashable, 7.26.10
- Real Racing GTI, free iPhone and iPad game app from VW
- Videos Posted by AKQA; Facebook
- Ford bets on social media for its next American compact; Headlightblog.com, 4.30.09
- Adventure Mission: Circus Tricks; Fiesta Movement, Bliss D.
- Trapeze School New York site
- 2010 Paris Auto Show Preview: Lotus Elite Concept; Motor Authority, 9.20.10
- Paris Preview: Citroën puts un peu d’air sur terre with Lacoste concept; Autoblog, 9.20.10
- Lamborghini to unveil technology concept at Paris Auto Show; AutoGuide.com, 9.20.10
All vehicle-related photographs and screenshots appear courtesy of the respective automakers. Car Town image via the application’s Facebook page.