Last week, I had the opportunity to visit the Los Angeles Auto Show during their pre-show, trade and media event, AutoMobility LA. Sip premium coffee while ogling the sleekest and latest offerings of the world’s automotive companies? Count me in.
All the big auto companies had gorgeous displays with gleaming, spotless cars. Many had interactive kiosks beside each model, highlighting new and innovative features. And all the newest model cars were equipped with the latest and greatest interactive technology and sensor-driven safety features.
And yet, after a few hours of trudging around, didn’t all the models begin to look the same?
Marketing is about making your brand and your product – its great features, its unique proposition – stand out. In a highly competitive industry like automotive, at a large-scale event like the Auto Show, how can a company distinguish itself? Let’s look at some of the standout exhibits from AutoMobility LA, to see some strategies for great marketing.
1) Co-branding is big. In fact, the bigger, the better.
Honda® has invested in a long-term relationship with the National Hockey League, and has been the Official Vehicle of the National Hockey League for the past 9 years. At AutoMobility, Honda launched their new truck, the Honda NHL® All-Star Ridgeline, with a press conference featuring hockey legend Wayne Gretskey. The place was mobbed. To extend the excitement, the Stanley Cup (yes, THE Stanley Cup) was showcased in the back of the demo truck, a custom-wrapped 2017 Honda NHL® Ridgeline, which will be presented to the MPV for the 2017 Honda NHL® All-Star Game in January. Well-known celebrity? Check. Iconic cultural icon? Check. Long-term partnership with established co-brand, tied in to a series of high-profile events? Honda is a great case study of how to maximize value and define brand personality with a strategic, long-term partnership.
Similarly, Nissan® has created a Limited Edition Rogue One Star Wars Nissan Rogue® , with Star Wars inspired design features. Their AutoMobility display boasted an enormous TIE Fighter, Rebel Alliance Special Forces costumes, model spacecraft, and VR video clips to bring viewers into the Star Wars universe. The Limited Edition Rogue (only 5000 will be produced) will appeal to hard core Star Wars fans, while Nissan furthers its image as being futuristic, cutting edge, and cool. Another great example of partnering with an enormously appealing cultural phenomenon.
What large-scale events or phenomena are happening in your world that your brand can be associated with? And, what other brands or products are targeting your customer demographics that may be effective partners?
2) Don’t just give stuff away – harness your visitors’ social media networks.
Toyota® unveiled a new compact crossover, the sexy, bold CH-R, at the show during a multimedia press conference with live DJ 3Lau. By giving away a high quality portable Bluetooth speaker to visitors posting a photo of the CH-R to their social media accounts with the hashtag #toyotachr, Toyota hyper-extended their social media reach through several hundred car enthusiasts and influencers
People at shows love to get free stuff – how can you use this opportunity to get the word out about your brand?
3) Make it fun!
Games are a great way to have consumers interact with your brand and your products. Ford ®, increasingly moving into “last mile” transportation solutions, featured a life size video game display simulating a fast-paced bike ride through an urban landscape, representing the “last mile” from public transportation to work, school or home. Two users could play at the same time, and a leader board posted the highest scores. Fun andcompetitive? Even better.
How can you include play, games, and fun into your marketing efforts?
4) Have integrity.
Elio Motors®, a maker of a fantastic, futuristic looking “personal transportation alternative” vehicles, distinguished itself from other exhibits at the show by not teeming with undernourished women in cocktail dresses. How refreshing! Instead, normal-looking people, both women and men, wearing jeans and Elio Motors tee-shirts staffed the show, and were available to converse intelligently about the product and explain its various features. It says something about the Elio brand; they are not trying to fit in with the mainstream; they are thoughtful, and intelligent. I walked away with an impression of a company that values people, ingenuity, and are ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work.
What does your display say about your brand? Are you a slave buying in to “conventions”, the “everybody does it, so we have to too”? syndrome? Are you prepared to do something original, to speak in your own voice?
How are you setting your brand apart from others at your next large-scale trade event? Are you cross-branding, using games or giveaways? What outrageous, memorable or effective ideas have you seen?
I’d love to hear from you!