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Literally Launching a Car via Social

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I would like to start off by saying I am a car fanatic, and if you are anything like me, you constantly have your finger on the pulse of the auto industry and watch reruns of Top Gear.  This past October while browsing the usual auto manufacturer websites to see what models are new for 2012, I stumbled upon the Chevrolet Sonic.  Usually when a car company launches a new model you see television spots, print ads, (insert traditional advertising here), and see social media to compliment the campaign as if an afterthought.  However, the Sonic was launched via social media marketing!  Every “stunt” video of the Sonic went viral, including a kick flip (skateboarding trick), skydiving, bungee jump, and music video with the band OK GO.  I know what you are thinking, “but Chevy ran a Sonic Super Bowl spot.” Yes, that is true, but the ad is a collection of the viral videos from the social effort that took place within the first six months of the campaign before the introduction of the first television spot during the Super Bowl.  While the viral videos gained millions of views, the purpose of this blog post is to show the importance of engagement with your target audience.

The social campaign was literally launched in October when Internet users were encouraged to login to Letsdothis.com and click a button causing the Sonic to inch closer to the edge atop a 100-foot tower of shipping crates.  When enough people went online to press the button the car would fall off the edge and bungee jump.  Over 2.4 million people went online to push the button and watch the Sonic bungee jump end in a flurry of confetti.  This car launch caught my attention through the clutter because the advertising was not shouting to the consumer, “Look what we have!” in a commercial with a car driving along the countryside.  Instead, the campaign encouraged users to interact and engage with the brand.  We at Overdrive, being internet marketers, push the importance of engagement and a car brand using social in this way is great to see.

To continue the social campaign, after the bungee jump and other viral videos, the Sonic Facebook page encourages users to play a game.  The “Game of Firsts” persuades users to go out and try something new, to taking a picture of the event, and post the picture to a Facebook app.  Game tasks include giving blood dressed like a vampire, working out in the grocery store, and baking a cake that looks like you and eating it.  Users participated for a chance to win a Sonic and if they didn’t, they still have a few great pictures to share with friends.  From the social effort Sonic’s Facebook page now has over 300,000 fans, more than any other vehicle in the subcompact segment.

Was launching the campaign via social media successful?  In October, towards the beginning of the social campaign, the Sonic sold 3,833 units, outselling other small cars, such as the Kia Rio, Mazda2, Nissan Juke, and others (Motor Trend).  Since October, the Sonic has continued to sell very well, beating Aveo sales, the car the Sonic replaced.  We hope to see more brands utilize social in the future, encouraging interactive conversation with customers.  Engagement can be the difference of having someone notice your brand or buying your brand.

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