Buying a car is one of the biggest purchases you can make in life. With so many options on the market, car dealerships and manufacturers know that they need to find ways to stand out and set themselves apart.
Some struggle with this, relying on pictures of their cars driving along a road while a voiceover lists some interesting features that no one is paying attention to.
Indeed, digital marketing for the automotive industry can sometimes be difficult. It’s a competitive niche after all.
Some, on the other hand, are wildly successful. And in this post, we’re going to take a look at 15 of the best automotive marketing campaigns of all time.
1. Tred Off-Read Vehicle Recovery
Tred’s video campaign looks at off-road vehicle recovery, and while it’s not a car commercial, it is in the automotive industry. They combine product images with great video action shots, showing the value of the product in work.
2. Volvo’s “The Epic Split”
This feature video looked at Jean-Claude Van Damme’s famous split, standing on the mirrors of two trucks driving side by side while they slowly moved further apart. It’s visually stunning, and the music has an incredible, motivating sound track. It garnered over 90 million views, and the tie in to test Volvo’s stability is simple, but it’s showing that they can back up a big claim with a big split.
3. You Don’t Have to Make a Deal with the Devil to Buy a Mercedes
Willem Dafoe, Kate Upton, and Usher teamed up with Mercedes to make this hilarious ad, promising viewers that you didn’t have to sell your soul to the devil to be able to afford one. This ad was designed to appeal to younger buyers, who are more likely to struggle financially and prioritize affordability but still want to have an incredible #FOMO, #YOLO experience.
4. Chevrolet – “Best Day Ever”
This video had an April Fool’s Day launch, and everything about it was designed to attract Millennials… including that hashtag. The eight-hour live stream of this event was hosted by Jon Dore from Garfunkel and Oats. The #BestDayEver hashtag generated a huge amount of engagement (see: 3 million views), 75% of which came from people under 35.
5. Ford’s “Try More”
This campaign tied in with a redesign of the core Ford models, and the company hosted live events that encouraged consumers to try new activities like axe throwing, bull riding, and MMA fighting… and the new Ford cars, of course, which users could test drive. The video campaigns were great, but the live events were a huge success; they attracted users with fun activities and got them into those cars.
6. Porsche – “Virtually Porsche”
Porsche launched a VR Experience in the United Stated, allowing their customers to experience their new Panamera 4 e-hybrid and its technological features. Through a VR App, the brand showed the filming process and ‘making-of’ the experience with tech and car lovers.
This campaign worked, and it made users want to check out the real thing. There were 2.2x more virtual test drives than actual test drives in the first month alone because the experience was so memorable.
7. CarMax’s “Caring Tree”
Car Max’s The Caring Tree won marketing awards when they partnered up with “Cradles to Crayons,” which is a non-profit that provides essential items to low-income children and homeless individuals.
They set up an interactive tree display, allowing consumers to use iPads to select gifts for children in need. Participants shared their donations on social media, generating more than 7.9 million impressions and 683K video views. It leveraged the brand as one that was generous and caring, even though it was consumers doing the majority of the donations.
8. Toyota Prius Game of Life
Toyota created a fun YouTube channel that combined video content with an interactive, productive research process. This video is also exceptionally targeted, even stating the target audience at the beginning to capture attention. They use the familiar concept of The Game of Life to appeal to users while promoting their car.
9. Mazda’s ‘Sound of Tomorrow’
Mazda promoted their partnership with Tomorrowland, which is one of the world’s largest music festivals. They built an enormous record player using their Mazda Mx-5 as the needle, recreating the song “Reality” by Lost Frequencies. In addition to the great video, they asked fans to recognize the song, with the winner of the competition receiving tickets.
10. Nissan’s #DoItForUs
Nissan’s 2016 #DoItForUs was a parody campaign, promoting its sponsorship in the Rio Olympic games in an entertaining way. It goes for the hidden camera approach, and it actually resulted in a 5% increase in brand opinion after the hashtag went viral. They chose a theme that they knew would be memorable (and meme-able) and it worked in their favor, especially with the timeliness of the content.
11. Lexus’ ‘Drive by Intuition’
This is the first ad solely written by artificial intelligence, and it was written based on the analysis of 15 years’ worth of Cannes Lion-winning campaigns. It shockingly was able to inject human emotion into the mix, showing the emotional investment of the car’s engineer. It’s got emotion, dedication of the creation process, and a great, unique hook.
12. Audi Teams up with Ricky Gervais
British comedian Ricky Gervais grabs viewer attention, along with a compilation of incredible, interesting scenes the make you wonder what they all have in common, before Gervais drives away in a new Audi, implying that this will be worth it.
13. Mustang – “Speed Dating”
Ford used a common cliche that women aren’t good drivers to create a prank video campaign. Men kept offering to drive the car for her, promising to “show her what it can really do,” before she showed them.
It quickly went viral and yielded almost 12.8 million views on YouTube. To best promote their car, they use humor to keep viewers engaged while showing some incredible maneuverability shots that will make anyone want to try.
14.Manning Gottlieb OMD and Nissan launch team up with The Dark Knight
In 2012, Nissan leveraged pop culture to their advantage, creating a Juke NISMO car that was designed with The Dark Knight series in mind. This coincided with the release of the third movie “The Dark Knight Rises,” and they hosted a sweepstakes to give it away that generated attention. More than 230,000 users got involved, making it a huge success.
15. The 2017 Kia Super Bowl Commercial
Super Bowl commercials have pretty high standards, and this one from Kia lived up to the hype. They have famous actress and comedian Melissa McCarthy driving round the world in a Kia while trying to save the world.
This commercial takes the standard trope of someone driving through gorgeous landscapes but offering little information value and adds a story to it, making it enjoyable to watch and guaranteeing you pay attention, while hitting home on that social and environmental mission to help their cars sell.
Car marketing campaigns need to be interesting, innovative, and do more than just showing a car zooming around a picturesque corner if you want to stand out. Each of these automative video marketing campaigns finds ways to do something new and entertaining that can attract and engage users. How will you follow suit?
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