Marketers are people and people love their cars.  So it's no surprise that some of the most ingenious buzzworthy marketing campaigns are those involving the modern invention that arguably is the root of all evil.  Trust me, on that one - I've driven in Boston, Paris, Heraklion, Istanbul, and the like,  and am still shaking, which is why the only thing I drive these days is a number 3 iron on the links.  Actually, I don't really play golf, but I thought that was a pretty funny comment.  Anyway, I must admit that in my past, I only drove a car horizontally, not vertically, and at least in the general vicinity of the speed limit, which isn't very buzzworthy at all.  And that is why cars that are hanging, falling, bouncing, and whatever other possibility I missed, capture attention.  And, as I mentioned about 10,000 times in Connecting With Consumers, if you don't get people's attention, you don't get buzz.

I couldn't help thinking about some buzzworthy car-related car campaigns of the recent past when I read the 2008 WOM case study at the WOMMA website earlier today.  The award-winning campaign that provides the focus of the case study was a 10-city promotion in Belgium created by Proximity BBDO for Dodge to promote the new Dodge Viper and a couple other models.  As described in the case study, the challenge for Dodge in the highly competitive Belgian car market was to get people familiar with the cars by encouraging them to take a test drive.  Yet, to get people into the Dodge showrooms for a test drive and, hopefully, a purchase would have required a lot of very expensive promotional shouting.  So instead of trying to bring consumers to the cars, BBDO cooked up a scheme to take the cars to the consumers, without spending for a single print ad, TV or radio commercial, or direct mailing.  As is evident from the adjoining photo, the marketing action involved inviting people to experience a 50-ft meter bungee jump in a Dodge Viper.  And BBDO made it social by equipping the cars with cameras, which recorded the reactions of the test driver. The videos were uploaded and posted at the campaign's website and then made shareable.

Here are the campaign's results, taken straight from the WOMMA website:

1. The onboard camera videos generated over 50,000 views on YouTube and GarageTV.

2. Site traffic boomed, with over 35,000 unique visitors

3. 10% of site visitors opted in, 5% requested more information and 1% visited a showroom.

In fact, by the time they took the Dodge challenge in Belgium, BBDO were already old hands at the hanging car motif.  Here's one from Italy that got a lot of attention online a few years ago.


You don't necessarily need a dangling car to generate buzz with this sort of outdoor campaign.  Back in November 2006, Target challenged magician David Blaine to escape from a gyroscope hanging five stories above New York's Times Square.  Blaine was to accomplish his great escape by Friday at 5AM to make it in time to Target's 2-Day Thanksgiving Sale.  Well, during the period around Thanksgiving, Times Square is swarming with tourists, most of whom are armed with digital cameras and videocams.  Sure enough, it wasn't long before YouTube was inundated with uploaded videos of the Target-sponsored event, and before long, YouTube counted more than 18,000 views.


And another example for good measure:

Let's face it, these campaigns are pretty talkable - they are hard to miss, unexpected, and creative.  Relatively speaking - that is, relative to a large-scale traditional mass media campaign, they are cheap.  The hanging cars are immediate and encourage sharing - with passersby (in car or on foot) likely to have a portable device on hand, chances are they'll be communicating about the campaign on their portable phones or else using its camera to capture an image that they'll upload at a social media website.  That's how you spread buzz.