Wednesday, February 25, 2009

5 Car Ad Campaigns That Successfully Target Gen-Y

I’m beginning to wonder just how much people understand Gen-Y.

Exhibit A: John Austin wrote an article this week titled: Automakers pursue the elusive Gen Y customer

I was more than excited to read his take on how the auto industry plans on pursuing Gen-Y as marketing shifts into new channels, but found the actual content as disappointing as Chris Brown’s credibility.


There were the token stereotypes of Gen-Y, which were provided by University of Notre Dame prof Carol Phillips: "They're cynical. They believe all advertisers lie." More interesting were the three examples of new marketing campaigns that target Gen-Y...let’s just say that if Gen-Y was an apple on my head, and each example were an arrow, I’d be bleeding out right now - although the new piercings might look cool in some parts of town.

Example 1: BMW’s The Hire campaign (...arrow pierced my clavicle)
Example 2: Hyundai’s Assurance Campaign (...arrow through my big toe)

Example 3: Mercedes’ Social Network (...I give up, and throw the apple at you instead)


My interpretation of the “New Marketing Strategies”


Example 1: The Hire launched online in 2001. Deloitte pegs Gen-Y at those born between ’82 and ’95; Howe & Strauss pegs Gen-Y at ’82 - ’01. Either way this example is 8 years old, and at the point of The Hire’s launch, the oldest Millennials were just beginning college and most likely not in the market for a Beemer.


Example 2: Hyundai’s Assurance campaign is targeted at fearful consumers who are skeptical at purchasing a new car in the middle of a recession. Yes, Millennials are fearful too, but this campaign is broadly target at anyone wanting an inexpensive car with an awesome return policy. This is NOT Gen-Y specific.


Example 3: The oldest Millennials are 27. Few are probably in a financial position to even think about dropping $50K on a car. Most, still have college debt they’re paying off. Making a social network that only allows people under a certain age when most of the demographic cannot afford your product is not the best use of resources. However, it is at least an effort to utilize a new marketing channel.

Here are five GOOD examples of car campaigns that target Millennials:

Good Ex 1: Volkswagen “Unpimp Your Ride” by ad legends Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Successfully launched the GTI’s new body type, while featuring a hot blonde, a goofy German engineer, and tricked-out cars being launched by catapults. 20M+ youtube views before the ads were pulled, and catapulted not just cars, but both sales and reputation for VW.

Good Ex 2: EVERYTHING Toyota did with Scion. Fully customizable cars, easy to use website, sponsorships of huge concerts, and flashy animated tv spots. Epic win for Toyota.


Good Ex 3: The sleeper pick: Hyundai’s 2010 Genesis Coup. The entire ad spot is of a 300hp beast of a sport car drifting around a race track. Tag team that with the Assurance program and a $22K price point, and now you have a campaign that targets Gen-Y.


Good Ex 4: Crispin Porter + Bogusky strapping BMW Minis to the roofs of SUVs and driving them around NYC to launch the Mini brand.


Good Ex 5: BMW’s 65,000 square foot billboard in Russia that dangle real cars with fully functional lights that makes it look like a sideways freeway o’ BMW. It may not have been in the US, but it generated an obscene amount of buzz online.


What are some of your favorite car ads/campaigns that targeted Gen-Y?


-Josh Groth

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