A well-executed media stunt not only will have press lining up to take photos and shoot video but also can get consumers to ooh and ahh from the sidelines.
Over the last several years DaimlerChrysler has been regularly taking the photo op a step further—using the events to generate p.r. and media hits as well as spur consumer interaction. The automaker’s range of events has included everything from auto show launches to tactical one-offs.
The most recent example: Dribble for Dodge which was centered around the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Consumers competed to see who could dribble the longest—the winner clocked in at more than 16 hours—to take home a 2007 Dodge Ram 1500. Consumers signed up to compete on a microsite and 150 people were selected to participate through a random drawing. (Dodge by the way isn’t an NCAA sponsor; Pontiac is the official sponsor of the NCAA.) “Because of the timing and the link to March Madness it was both something that consumers wanted to participate in and… newsworthy for the media ” says Eileen Wunderlich manager-marketing communications at Chrysler.
At the State Fair of Texas in Dallas last fall the company promoted its 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited with a competition that had consumers wading through 14 000 gallons of mud for the chance to win the new vehicle. Sticks buried in the sludge were assigned point values; the consumer who tallied the most points drove away with a new Wrangler (Agency: Clear!Blue Birmingham MI).
The interactive angle drew in consumers; the prospect of 120 people getting themselves ultra-dirty for the chance to win a Jeep attracted the media.
Recipe for Success
With responsibility for marketing a wide array of vehicles it would be easy for DaimlerChrysler marketers to fall into a rut and duplicate one successful idea across multiple brands. But the company manages to keep things fresh by constantly looking for new ways to engage consumers. The secret sauce? Timing and relevance.
“It’s about trying to find the right hook and the right link that ties back to the product but also ties to an event or trend that’s out there ” Wunderlich says.
To promote the new Aspen SUV for example the auto giant in February staged the Snowoku Challenge a super-sized sudoku game in New York City. Six teams which entered for the chance to participate via a microsite competed for a trip to Aspen CO (including use of the new SUV) on sudoku grids built from 36 000 pounds of snow and ice. The event capitalized on a craze but the brand also amped up the interactivity by turning a normally solitary game into a team effort and by incorporating the vehicle. Contestants had to prep for the game inside an Aspen and the winning team was recognized only after its participants got back inside their SUV and shut the doors.
With each event Wunderlich says the company gets better at identifying just the right pop culture trend to link product to consumer. That’s key because new and interesting interactives also give DaimlerChrysler news appeal and keep the media coming back for more.