Video Essentials

What Online Video Marketers Should Learn From the Auto Industry


When it comes to marketing strategy, the auto industry is synonymous with product placement. But it’s also been among the first to leverage online video. Since as early as 2009, the auto industry has been a big proponent of deploying unique videos across multiple platforms. Here are some of our favorite examples of clever car-related online video campaigns that marketers can use as inspiration.

Buick:  We’ll start with a recent project that Clear Online Video contributed to for Buick. Buick sponsored an online video holiday cooking series called Chef Gastronomy starring Chef Judson Todd Allen. The video demonstrates Chef Allen’s traditional recipes with a healthy twist for families.

The Buick logo appears at the beginning of the video and it shows Chef Allen driving to a store in a Buick Regal to pick up ingredients. There’s also a quick demonstration of Buick’s GPS navigation technology features—but that’s really it!

This may not seem like a lot off the bat, but it’s a great example of personality marketing. Buick is aligning itself with Chef Allen’s image—a young, hip, and creative family man.

And this is just the type of customer Buick wants to attract.

Ford: Back in 2009, Ford ran a contest offering winners a free Ford Fiesta for six months. Applicants had to submit videos to Ford explaining why they deserved to win the car. One of the selected recipients was Olga Kay, a well-known YouTube personality who covers topics like video games and women’s beauty.

Olga, along with hundreds of others, were coined “Ford Fiesta Agents,” played part in the larger Ford Fiesta Movement campaign. As part of the giveaway, agents were required to produce one video a month with different themes, featuring their Fiestas.

Following the six-month period, Ford approached Olga about extending the program and graduating her to the title of “Ford Fiesta Expert.” It gave her a free car and gasoline for a year. Olga’s call-to-action was to continue featuring her car in videos on her YouTube channel.

Additionally, Olga was expected to answer questions about the car on Twitter and other channels, making this a cross-promotional strategy.

Unlike product placement in TV or film—where the car would likely be shown just once—Ford was put in front of Olga’s 700,000-plus subscribers on a regular basis for 12 months straight. Ford also struck gold by grouping hundreds of social media influencers, providing them with a topic to collaborate on. This helped spread the reach of the Fiesta Movement among its target audience.

Hyundai: Another example of carmakers targeting the highly sought-after millennial audience is from Hyundai. It partnered with the Students of the World, a national network of university students and creative professionals that produce media to inspire social action.

As part of the campaign, Hyundai sponsored 16th Street, a three-part video series that celebrates the creative process by bringing together emerging filmmakers, a dancer, and a musician to create a film in Oakland’s historic 16th Street Station.

Hyundai got even more bang for its buck because the series aired on YouTube and the Pivot TV channel, the same millennial-aimed network that aired Hit Record on TV.

This was a brilliant way for Hyundai to partner up with projects that were aimed at its target customer.

Too often, marketers try to make a splash on their websites or social channels with big marketing campaigns. Rather than trying to lure customers in, Hyundai went to them.  This is a great example of a company knowing where its audience spends their time.

Nissan: Nissan’s example of leveraging online video is much more recent. In 2015, Nissan decided to live stream the debut of its brand-new 2016 Maxima sedan at the New York Auto Show.

Taking advantage of an industry tradeshow or exhibition is a great way to get more exposure for online videos. There’s an active audience who is already commenting, tweeting, snapping, and instagramming around the show. There’s also a good chance that there are hashtags and keywords that can be used to further optimize the way videos are ranked in search results.

Prior to the live stream, Nissan was quiet about the redesign of the Maxima. This helped build excitement and buzz around the live stream itself, while also making it newsworthy. These are key ingredients to making any live stream successful.

BMW: Finally, there’s an example from BMW’s Preparing for the Future. This was a partnership with Team USA in preparation for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. We see a lot more of the BMW logo, but the practice bobsleds used by Team USA in this video were designed by BMW.

Overall, the video is edgy, sleek, and does a great job of showing the emotional build up to the Winter Olympics. The athletes talk about their intense training and high standards. BMW is drawing the parallel of how an Olympic athlete’s process is similar to it manufacturing model with precision, speed, and control. Doesn’t that sound like a BMW?

The creative on the video included sharp edges, angles, and a color palette that matches the BWM branding. Even the slow- and fast-motion effects were similar to what we would see in a car commercial.

This is a good reminder of how BMW’s video brand is complementary to the rest of its marketing materials. BMW is careful not to dilute its brand by sending mixed messaging. This is a subtle way to ensure that consumers are always aware of the greater brand, even when it’s not mentioned.

While all the examples here took different approaches and targeted varied demographics, they have one thing in common: They create original and engaging video content that appeals to a targeted audience.




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