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October 27, 2016

Savvy Car Selling Via Social Media Sharing

1-jaguar_art_of_performance_virtual_videoHow would you like to be the star of your own one-minute action-packed video car chase? That's just one of the new ways automakers are luring you into the showroom to check out their new models, or at least make you more aware of their brand.

Jaguar doesn't have the production volume or the advertising budget of the big guys from Detroit, Germany, Korea, and Japan, so it's geared up social media and virtual reality to spread the message of the brand's revitalization. It must be working. Bloomberg calls Jaguar "the hottest car company in the U.S." right now, for its hot new models including the new XE compact sport sedan and F-Pace SUV.

The action video was a feature of Jaguar's recent "Art of Performance" multi-city tour, which also gave attendees the chance to test drive the all-new XE compact sport sedan. Video clips of participants "virtually" driving a Jaguar are interspersed with a "canned" adrenalin car chase, including dramatic rollovers and fiery crashes.

Jaguar Land Rover marketing VP Kim McCullough says approximately 10,000 people participated, and more than half shared their action videos with friends and family, garnering more than a million views. That's far more "reach" than a traditional TV commercial or print ad could get, and for far less money.

3-jaguar_xeMcCullough says more than 90 percent of Jaguar's XE and F-Pace SUV buyers are new to the brand, and that they're younger buyers than in the past. "We're changing the perception from great heritage, but our best days are behind us, to relevant with cutting-edge models for a new generation of buyers," she says.

An admitted "car nut," she drove the legendary Mille Miglia vintage car rally in Italy earlier this year in her own personal model which dates back from the days when Jaguar ruled the racecourse, a 1954 Jaguar XK120.

McCullough also is marketing the quality of the new models, with a new program that allows owners to write reviews and personal experiences on the Jaguar website. People are "two-and-a-half times more likely to buy when they see a positive review," she says. Just ask the restaurants reviewed on Yelp and hotels and attractions reviewed on TripAdvisor.

McCullough was one of the panelists at a recent marketing seminar sponsored by Automotive News in New York City. Another was Bodil Eriksson, VP of marketing and communication for Volvo, another small brand re-inventing itself with new products and a new focus on leveraging social media to get its message across.

2-jaguar_art_of_perfomanceEriksson's game plan is to piggyback on what manufacturers with bigger budgets are doing. Buying one 30-second commercial on the Super Bowl "would be one-quarter of our annual ad budget." Her tactic was to launch what she described as an interception, a Twitter campaign during the game, asking people to name somebody worthy of getting a free Volvo. It generated 55,000 Tweets, and five lucky winners, whose stories are now being marketed, too.

"We want to spark a conversation. We are looking for stories to tell," she says, "beyond the storied Volvo safety features." What's next? Expect more traditional and new media campaigns about the story of Scandinavian design, along with stories of our love of the open road, whether that's driving a Volvo in Sweden or in the U.S.

You'll also be hearing more about Volvo's first-ever U.S. factory, now being built in South Carolina, with a planned opening in the second half of 2018.

Personally, I so hope Volvo will be sharing time-lapse photography, virtual tours, etc. If she hasn't already thought of it, I also hope Eriksson will launch another virtually free Twitter campaign to give away the first vehicle off the new assembly line, or raffle it for charity. It's all about capturing the attention of a media-savvy audience in creative new ways.


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Evelyn-kanterby Evelyn Kanter, for Motor Matters

Evelyn Kanter has been reporting on the automotive industry since 1976, when she was an award-winning investigative consumer reporter for ABC News. She was also a reporter for CBS News. Evelyn writes for Continental Airlines Magazine,, AAA Car and Travel, and has written for the New York Times, New York Post, Associated Press, Copley News Service, Travel & Leisure, Redbook, Family Circle and She is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and lives in New York City.

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