by Erick Brown
The typical brand website follows a pretty standard pattern: eye-catching imagery married to well-researched copy, some form of a ‘Product News’ section, a variation on ‘Special Offers’ or a Coupon, possibly a way to learn more about the history of the brand, and, increasingly, an attempt by the brand to participate in social networks. But then some take it one step further and choose to show off something to engage the consumer in order to create a connection to the brand that goes past simple use and awareness.
I highlighted a recent example of this in the last Weekend Miscellany where the Lincoln Motor Company commissioned artist Beck and a 160 person orchestra to remake David Bowie’s Sound and Vision to be performed in front of 300 invited guests in California. The result ranks up there with one of the cooler things I’ve seen in a while. Upon completion, the video points you to a website which Lincoln has devoted to the concept of “Hello, Again”. A logical question about the relationship between the luxury car brand and the eclectic Beck performance is obvious enough to lead Lincoln to pose the question themselves in an obvious location on their site: “What is Hello, Again?”.
The answer is a few paragraphs about fresh ideas from old sources, essentially a tale of how Lincoln is or intends to reinvent themselves while remaining the same. The new from the old, the modern from the classic, the Beck from the David Bowie. It’s nothing new in marketing speak, but I find it fascinating nonetheless.
I think it is fair to say that I do probably think of the Lincoln Motor Company differently than I did just a few weeks ago. But I’m also aware that many people see the cross-links at the end of videos like this and pass right over them in the same way that I disregard many of the brand names associated with various college football bowl games. The difference for me is the effort that it takes to put something like this together compared to slapping the company logo on a billboard or relying simply on Super Bowl ads. Personally, I find it impressive.
Whether David Bowie accurately represents how people viewed Lincoln this time last year is a whole different story, but the idea is certainly interesting. The next step is simply to aim for ‘viral’, but that’s basically a wish and a prayer. I found this video on Slate and I haven’t seen it anywhere but here at The Commutes since. If Slate didn’t decide to post it, I would have never seen it and the campaign may have failed for me. I probably wouldn’t have noticed the new Lincoln ads at my local train station, I certainly wouldn’t have explored the website, and I would be extremely unlikely to view Lincoln any differently than I previously had. Does the fact that I did see it make the campaign a success?
I imagine there is a web analyst and a marketing strategist sitting behind a desk in Detroit somewhere responsible for communicating that ‘fact’. How many people watched the video? How many came to the site? How many clicked to see the explanation of ‘Hello, Again’? How many changed their opinions of Lincoln like I have? And how many of those will allow that change in opinion to affect their buying behavior?
That’s the difficult question that becomes even more difficult in a market like automobiles. A funny Old Spice ad will get consumers to drop a few bucks to when presented with the deodorant aisle, but the product itself keeps them coming back. Can an interesting music video get a consumer to give Lincoln a shot? Maybe a few of us will stop by a dealership if we’re ever in the market. Heck, maybe we’ll give it a test drive. But when it comes down to dropping 5 figures on something, is the product there to support the new interest?
Or will folks like me stick to the Honda Civic that served them so well for so long? I’m not in the market, but it’ll be interesting to see where my head, my heart, and my all-important wallet lead me the next time I’m looking.