Nissan have dominated the news over the past week with their feline friendly social media stunt. When music producer Deadmau5 received a telling off from Ferrari for decorating his car with cat themed graphics, he took to twitter to share his discontent with his 2.96 million twitter fans.
Quick off the mark, Nissan tweeted:
“Hey @deadmau5, heard what happened to your car. Good news? We found a replacement, ready right meow. #GTR”
Deadmau5 (apparently named after a dead mouse he found in his computer as a teen) was thrilled and gave Nissan the publicity the ingenious stunt deserved, thanking Nissan publicly on twitter. But better still, the marketing team at Nissan must have been jumping for joy when Deadmau5 agreed to go one step further and test drive their GTR.
".@Nissan that launch on the GTR tho... Hooooboy. Most whip for the buck for sure."
His test drive post has not only been shared amongst his twitter army but also his million Instagram followers. It has been favourite 642 times, re-tweeted and shared hundreds of times in just a few days. Fantastic publicity for the automotive giant with a direct reference to the price benefit there for all to see.
The story reflects just how quick off the mark marketing teams can be on social media. Reacting in real time, to real life situations, news and opportunity. The jury is out on whether the Nissan picture was authentic in terms of the cat graphic but the impact was achieved just the same.
The stunt was very reminiscent of the famous Citroen transformer v Chevrolet spoof advert placed on YouTube back before Twitter was the social media arena of the moment. Many marketing students have studied the impact of the spoof advert on the Citroen brand and although a bit of social ‘fun’, the result was seen to be substantial in undermining the brand proposition bringing to the front of mind the technical issues Citroen were experiencing at that time.
Fast forward to today and clearly Ferrari and Nissan point their bow and arrows at different segments, separated by a breath taking price tag. But Nissan have been really clever in targeting not only the up and coming Millennials, with the aspiration of being a success but also comfortable mid lifers in their 40s, 50s who want a value proposition. They have neatly cultured key influencers including Chris Evans who wrote an article entitled “The Nissan that thinks it’s a Ferrari” with an award of 6 stars for avid Daily Mail readers.
The stunt comes at a time of great debate about the role of social media in automotive, sparked by an article posted by David Barkholz (@barkholzatAN) on Autonews in August.
In it, the article claims that a survey of 300 Millennials sponsored by AutoTrader.com reported that social media had limited influence in purchase. Yet the same report stated that during the car purchase process, 82% of time was spent online researching. The posts in response to the article make some great points.
If you ask anyone directly how much they are swayed and influenced by social media they are likely to give strong denial. But for purchase intention to be present in what we call ‘high involvement’ purchase decisions (i.e. complex stuff like cars where we might kick ourselves post purchase if we get it wrong), marketeers know that brand awareness needs to be really strong.
People will find their friends more credible than advertising, constant chat about cars will help them to identify the brands that are more socially accepted and admired amongst their peer group. And of course, celebrities will play an important role in helping to shortlist brands, transferring their own brand values - all part of the research online before the test drive is booked.
It is great to see Automotive brands like Nissan signposting people to social media directories to support them in their fact finding and engagement. We were also pleased to read on Autonews that Honda are starting to get really clever in planning communications with their dealerships to ensure that they are not competing on Google AdWords.
Yet another example, that proves that the automotive sector are really starting to up their game. So, it certainly appears that 2015 will be a vintage year for social media campaigns in the automotive sector.
CrowdControlHQ is the UK’s leading social media risk management and compliance platform. We support the automotive sector to promote brand awareness, listen and respond to customer enquiries and deliver effective campaigns across multiple geographical territories.
Marketing Director CrowdControlHQ
Module leader MSc Marketing Communications (Birmingham Business School)