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Kelly Moor
Senior Client Director

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Image source: Volvo

How automotive brands are using brand storytelling

| 1 July 2015

Your first car is like your first cuddly toy, the grown-up version of the stuffed bear. Hands-up how many of you readers gave your first car a name?

Whilst (most) of us eventually shift (slightly) away from this personification of our wheels, there’s still something about our vehicles that evokes this weirdly protective attachment to them.

The Ladder of Life

A set of wheels signifies freedom, so that our cars often become iconized as our partners in crime. What’s more, they often represent the important rungs on life’s ladder.

As a teen our run-around makes us super-cool, as a professional we aspire to move from banger to Benz. Wherever we are in life, if we own a car, we normally wind up forging an emotional attachment to our freedom fighter.

Automotive brands can bounce off this attachment by using people-based marketing to generate relevant content that’s impactful and engaging. Research shows that by far the most popular brand stories are either humorous, inspirational or centred on real-life people.

Statistics show that social media plays a crucial role in influencing car purchasers decisions. Combine the two and you’re onto a winner:

  • 38% of consumers say they consult social media in making their next car purchase.

  • Nearly a quarter of car buyers use social media to communicate their purchase experience.

  • Clicks on auto ads on Facebook more than doubled between 2012 and 2013 from 16% to 39% respectively.

  • 94% of millennial car buyers gather information online.

Inspiring, Funny, Uplifting

Our cars are our mobile homes, by our sides through most of life’s highs and lows. They don’t just stand for a destination, they’re filled with memories of the journeys.

This is fabulous fodder for automotive brands. Get both customers and real-life people that aren’t affiliated to the brand to share inspirational stories through words and videos that can be played-out across social media. Real-life tales are impactful and uplifting and guaranteed to set tongues wagging.

Alternatively, witty and comical content is hugely popular. Be insightful and use customer data to generate targeted, relevant content that’s sure to trigger a laugh. There are countless clichés you can use to poke-fun and gently tease your customers and fans. Think fraught family outings, road-trips, breakdowns, you name it. Ford is a master at jovial Vines videos, racking up a following of 52.8K.

Below are six great examples of automotive brands that just get-it:

Lexus: It Got Better

Lexus joined forces with the “It Gets Better Project” to create a series of videos showcasing real-life stories of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. To create maximum impact the stories were those of famous actors, athletes and musicians.

Volvo: 3 Million Reasons to Believe

Volvo inspired customers by telling the tale of Irv Gordon who racked up three million miles on his sturdy Volvo since buying it in 1966. To mark Gordon’s milestone the car maker started the “3 Million Reasons to Believe” campaign for fans across the globe to share their own “reasons to believe” in a Volvo vehicle.

The brand used Gordon’s road-roaming stories to inspire and uplift consumers and spur them into sharing their own personal tales of adventure.

Cadillac: Dare Greatly

To get some wind behind its flagging sails, the brand is undergoing a big reinvention, moving part of its operations from Detroit to New York and bolstering its product range.

In a bid to create buzz and momentum around its transformation, Cadillac kicked-off its “Dare Greatly” campaign that showcases stories from inspirational people whose guts have helped to change lives and reshape the industries they operate in.

Subaru: The Outback

Subaru Australia cottoned onto comedy to launch its new Outback SUV by teaming up with two of the country’s comedy favourites to produce a witty and humorous television advert. The pun-fuelled video helps humanize the brand by gently ridiculing an often fraught but amusing aspect of family life. The perfect way to launch a family-sized vehicle!

Hyundai: Don’t Tell

Hyundai made customers chuckle with an advert showing clips of naughty parents and kids and a voice-over of “Don’t Tell.” They forged an emotional connection with consumers by recognising that all the best stories start with a “Don’t Tell.”

Fiat: The Motherhood

A rap on the gritty reality of bearing offspring is total genius from Fiat. It’s catchy, funny, self-deprecating humour that can’t fail to make you laugh (even if you’re not a Mum).

A fantastic way for Fiat to reach out to the yummy mummies by showing it “gets-it”. The advert has generated more than 4 million views on Youtube.