The concept that the automotive industry is following in the footsteps of the entertainment industry is an interesting proposition.
Vehicles have always having been a high interst consumer product and in many cases cultural icons. The buzz and chatter that surrounds vehicles both old and new, is immense. With numerous blog, forums, social media, traditional media all dedicated to this consumer gadget.
In the past vehicle manufacturers have tried to keep the development and launch of new models under wraps. Going to great lengths to conceal vehicles to ensure that they could do large theatrical debuts to a fanfare of select industry folk and journalists.
However with the web and social media meaning that content is spreading so quickly. It is becoming more difficult to conceal the development process from press and fans. Furthermore, vehicles are starting to resemble tech gadgets, in the fact that they appearingly have been progammed for oboslesence. So the economic case for concealing launches as to not undermine the value of exisiting stock is becoming largely reduntant.
Hence, what we are seeing now from manufacturers is a move away from the traditional launch and large campaign mentality, toward a ceoncerted drip feed of content, teasers, reviews and pre-launch events that generate buzz and conversation around new vehicles. Almost trying to sell them before they are off the factory floor. For example, Holden, has recently launched a campaign to promote its new Commodore. Where consumers are tasked, pre-launch, to uncover as many pieces of a `101 peice puzzle as they can to get sneak peak of the new commodore. People are given both digtial and physical clues with the chance to win one of the vehicle’s. This seems like an interesting idea and much more socially centric than what we have seen come from other Australian Automotive brands.
In saying that, in typical Australian digital fashion the execution seems incredibly undercooked, poorly planned and poorly executed. Perhaps, no fault of the agency. Just as per usual, the budget isn’t there to do it properly. It could have been so much more. Such as this example from The Dark Knight, which started to promote the film 18mths pre-release through a variety of online and physical ARG executions.
On the topic of the changing nature of launches, here is some really interesting commentary from Ford CMO Jim Farley. Articulating how Ford are looking at their vehicles as entertainment frranchises.