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What makes a campaign stand out?

We’re ‘gearing up’ for The Digitals on June 27th, so we thought we’d take a closer look at some inspiring examples that really caught our eye, starting with our Automotive category so expect speed, dangerous curves and terrible car-based puns aplenty…

Auto Trader drops a car in the Thames

Stunt marketing remains popular in the social age, the only difference is that these days the punters want to get involved in the action directly, which is what drove Auto Trader to hang a SEAT Mii 35 metres above the Thames and leave its fate in the fickle hands of Twitter.

Over 12,000 Tweeters mentioned the #winMiiwithAT hashtag, positive and negative sentiment lowering or raising the car throughout the day, and pushing almost 14m visitors to Auto Trader’s various platforms (and yes, one of them even won the car!).

Check out the video: 

Brandwidth Group and Citroën let you design a car

Let’s face it, buying some new wheels is a hassle. Not enough power, you don’t like the colour, not enough legroom, too many cup holders…

If only there were a way to have design input into your next mode of transport.

Wait a minute! There is, at least as long as you’re going with a Citroen C1 Connexion…

Yep, it’s the world's first crowdsourced car. Citroën (along with the folks at Brandwidth) let Facebook fans define what a car should be like.

While visions of ‘The Homer’  must have crossed Citroen’s mind, the results are actually great, and had the bonus effect of ramping the brand’s social engagement figures through the roof, with over 24,000 different versions of the final car submitted (and an extra 15,000 fans joining up for the ride).

The whole campaign helped drive a lot of buzz and 500 real, actual car sales. Here’s the finished product:

Line Up and Volvo make all their dealers more useful

We often tout the importance of providing value, and while a new car is certainly valuable, using social media to empower and motivate your entire workforce so that they can help your customers out has a much bigger effect.

Rather than blinding potential customers with razzle dazzle, Volvo kept to their brand image and made a simple, functional app for their 5,000 dealers: The V40 Launch Event Toolkit:


The app collates customer insight, industry information and those all-important brand stories, alongside technical vehicle displays, letting dealers plan Launch Events and help customers be more informed when thinking about buying a new car.

Need to know if that special trim you saw in an ad is available in downtown Minsk? Your local dealer will know instantly.


Delivering this across 64 markets (with 24 Languages) was a big technical challenge, but it’s been a big success, with 83% of dealers using the app regularly, and enabling Volvo to keep all its staff up to date quickly with regular updates.

Manning Gottlieb OMD and Nissan launch team up with The Dark Knight

Imagine you’re a car manufacturer. How do you make your latest model really thrilling? 

How about turning it into a Batmobile? 


Nissan took the unusual approach of superhero-fying the JUKE last year after tying the car into the release of The Dark Knight Rises.

To begin with this was a fairly straightforward brand/media collaboration, but thanks to the campaigns online hub, over 230,000 users got involved, prompting Nissan to shift things up a notch and produce an actual Batmobilised version of the JUKE for sale:


It’s a great example of taking a regular campaign to the next level, with judicious use of excellent digital creative (and a few Bat-themed prizes) to test the water for a much larger initiative. 

McLaren Automotive fire up their new spider

We can’t all own a Batmobile, but there are a few supercars within the reach of mere mortals (before anyone writes in, I know Batman is mortal…), and McLaren have produced some of the most awe-inspiring of the last twenty years. 


One of the problems with supercars though, is that people don’t tend to buy them online, so McLaren had a challenge on their hands when it came to moving away from traditional car marketing channels and expanding their digital footprint. 

So how do you get motorsport fans super-engaged about a car that most of them will never be able to afford? Simple: Appeal to the inner geek.

McLaren fired off a volley of amazing technical shots and this fantastic video, using wind tunnel effects to highlight the car’s aerodynamicas, then seeding the video out virally, eventually reaching 180,000 fans:

They also hooked up a car configurator, allowing browsers to play around with hundreds of options as they approached purchase (If you’re going to pay £200,000 for a car, it had better be perfect) 

What’s really impressive here is that McLaren was able to use all this to identify real prospects for such a large scale purchase while upping its overall social and web presence.

SapientNitro and Chrysler show a little European sophistication

International markets can be a challenge, especially if you’re launching a quintessentially ‘European’ product for the US market, so kudos to Fiat for embracing their Euro heritage when launching the new Abarth, mixing up killer content with offline events for fans to get buzz building:


Fiat rolled out teaser content to influential auto bloggers initially, and upped the ante withan entirely new site chock full of sexy image and video content.

While it may not be the most innovative approach, it’s definitely one of the more exhilarating, a feeling shared by over 35,000 people who signed up for purchase info:

Want to see more? 

Head to The Digitals site and view The Yearbook now for new content that stands out in marketing and ecommerce, we'll be updating it every day as we approach this year's massive awards on June 27th. 

Matt Owen

Published 18 June, 2013 by Matt Owen

Matt Owen was formerly Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or hook up on LinkedIn.

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