In a recent study by J.D. Power and Associates, new-vehicle owners were asked to cite the reasons they chose a particular make and model of a vehicle they purchased. Not surprisingly, out of 10 factors, the most frequently cited was, “like the image the vehicle portrays.” So what if an automotive brand doesn’t portray the image it wants? Content marketing can help.
The Lincoln Motor Company, Land Rover and Cadillac are three automotive brands that have struggled in recent years with brand identity, and now are leveraging content marketing to transform their perception and engage new, desired audiences.
The Lincoln Motor Company’s “Lincoln Now”
According to research by Polk, an automotive market research firm, the average Lincoln buyer is older than the buyers of any other luxury car brand. Wanting to introduce itself to sophisticated, younger drivers, Lincoln decided to focus on producing high-quality content that is interesting enough to grab attention on its own merit.
“Content marketing is a vital part of reaching younger audiences. We know its important to authentically engage customers according to their lifestyle, especially when they are still getting to know our brand”
– Andrew Fick , Group Marketing Manager, Lincoln
The result is “Lincoln Now,” a comprehensive storytelling platform designed to celebrate individuality. The site tells stories of intriguing artists, musicians, directors, entrepreneurs, icons and also Lincoln artisans. The content’s diversity in topics result in being a balance between stories of luxury and culture, and stories of Lincoln automobiles, artisans and the brand’s history. In an article that focuses on film and culture, “Rhythm is a Danger,” Lincoln interviews Damien Chazelle, screenwriter of the Academy Award-nominated film, “Whiplash.” In the article, Chazelle describes the inspiration and thought process behind the movie. In another article that incorporates Lincoln automobiles, “Artisans of Lincoln: Inspirations of the MKC,” Lincoln interviews its color and material designers on their creative and design processes. Although the article features Lincoln automobiles, it is important to note that the product is notthe main subject of the story, but secondary. By thoughtfully incorporating the product rather than boasting it, the article positions Lincoln vehicles as works of thoughtful art and craftsmanship that someone should be proud to own and drive.
Land Rover’s “The Vanishing Game”
In 2014, Land Rover embarked on a unique branded content project – an interactive digital book, “The Vanishing Game,” written by British author, William Boyd. The project aimed to build the brand’s reputation as a vehicle for adventure, discovery and exploration. The adventure thriller follows protagonist Alex Dunbar on a mysterious driving adventure across the UK, and the story is brought to life online through a multi-sensory experience, comprised of video, photography, animation, sound, music and narration.
“What I tried to achieve was to make the Land Rover an inherent presence in the story, something always there – implicit, strong, solid, reliable, ready to function – very like the part it plays in my memory.”
– William Boyd, Author, The Vanishing Game
To further promote reader engagement and activity, NewsCred provided custom content around the story, which was distributed to various media outlets, including Vox Media, Quartz,New York Times and Travel + Leisure. Readers and actual Land Rover owners were encouraged to share personal driving adventures, tagged with #WellStoried. Pulling in that hashtag, the photos were collected and showcased on a dedicated Tumblr site, which allowed you to search the photos by keyword or location. The unique and innovative strategy has worked well for the brand, engaging adventurers around the world and enhancing its image as a luxury adventure vehicle.
Cadillac’s “Dare Greatly”
Despite a strong year for the luxury automobile market, Cadillac sales dipped 6% in 2014. Realizing the brand needed to redefine itself, Cadillac launched “Dare Greatly.” The effort sought to differentiate the brand through what Cadillac stands for, rather than traditional “one-upsmanship,” such as “more horsepower” or “more torque.”
“The Cadillac brand needed to change. We needed to have a new point of view to show why we’re relevant. Cadillac wants to create interplay among the brand values of boldness, sophistication and optimism, and yet be inviting and approachable. We want to inspire. We want people to dream Cadillac again.”
– Uwe Ellinghaus, CMO, Cadillac
Cadillac launched its new initiative with a commercial during the Oscars, and supplemented the advertisement with content on its Dare Greatly site. The site states its mission as a hub that “celebrates the daring, whose passion and vision have reshaped their industries, our lives and our future.” Perfectly aligned with this vision, the site’s content includes video interviews with accomplished risk-takers, speaking to the dares they’ve taken and their unique perspectives in life.
Currently, interviewees include fashion designer Jason Wu, visionary inventor Steve Wozniak, blazing entrepreneur Njeri Rionge, film director Richard Linklater and health care advocate Anne Wojcicki. The video interviews are kept at a short, engaging length, at about two to three minutes. The production quality is high, and showcases each interviewee in an authentic, relaxed environment. Dare Greatly’s content is also a major play in the brand’s new social strategy, with many social posts tagged with #DareGreatly or including stills and quotes from the interviews.
Transforming an automotive brand’s perception is not an easy task. However, producing engaging content that resonates with a target audience is an effective and valuable strategy that results in strong relationships and loyalty over time. The key secret to these three automotive brands’ content marketing success is that they do not simply talk about themselves or boast about their vehicles’ attributes. Instead, they create content on topics they know their target audiences find interesting. As a result they provide a valuable and positive brand experience for readers.