Jodi Harris: The Chrysler brand has announced its new 360-degree marketing concept for the 2007 Chrysler Sebring. What does this entail?
Eric Grenier joined Organic in June of 2006 and is the Chrysler account lead of engagement management in Organic's Detroit office. He brings a 10-year career in all aspects of web and interactive design, development and management.
Eric Grenier: The 360 degree marketing concept looks holistically at all of the touch points surrounding the consumer, wherever they are. You can think of it as the next evolution of "cross-channel" marketing, as it's less about media integration and more about a consumer-centric media strategy. It not only includes a heavy online component, but also television, radio, print, events and other offline media.
Harris: In striving to reach consumers wherever they consume media, what will the online component of this campaign consist of?
Grenier: The Chrysler Sebring website is at the core of our online strategy and it's packed full of engaging experiences to both educate and excite consumers about the vehicle. Most notably, we created a fresh twist on the online vehicle tour that includes animation, voiceover descriptions and music-- perfect for the Chrysler brand. Additionally, as with any major vehicle launch, we're investing in raising awareness through online advertising. PHD has placed ads in the more traditional automotive sites where consumers do research, such as Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, MSN, Yahoo! and AOL Auto, but has also placed buys for Time's Person of the Year and People's Sexist Man Alive. Finally, we have created Chrysler's first podcast that showcases Chrysler Music Legends and pairs great music with vehicle imagery and live Chrysler.com links.
Harris: One of the components described in the campaign was a series of Sebring-branded video games, with selectable background music. How did this work? What does this strategy say about the Sebring's target market?
Grenier: In branded video games, Organic not only strives to entertain potential car buyers, but also provides them with an opportunity to learn about DaimlerChrysler vehicles. For the Sebring campaign, BBDO and Organic -- in partnership with ForgeFX and WrightStrategies -- launched "Semantics" and "Lane Change," which are very popular with the female demographic-- a key Sebring target. In addition to games, there's also selectable music, which is all about giving the Sebring audience the ability to choose the type of music that they want to listen to while they're engaging with the brand.
Harris: Tell us about the long-form infomercial Chrysler plans to air on AOL. How did this project come about and how will it work?
Grenier: We say that infomercials are evolving, and the online environment is the perfect approach for a number of reasons. First, we know that many of the potential vehicle buyers are regularly visiting the major portal sites. Second, because visitors come to these sites for content, a long-form infomercial is likely to be perceived as less intrusive than in might be in other media channels. Third, the online channel facilitates unprecedented user control. If a viewer wants to re-watch details about a specific product feature, they can do so easily. Finally, long-form online infomercials are designed to help prospects decide to buy-- often leading them directly to the brand site. This effort is all about improving sales, and this approach should help Chrysler do so.
Harris: Why is this the right time, and right vehicle, for the Chrysler brand to undertake a heavily online-centric campaign?
Grenier: It is the right time because web usage in the United States in now ubiquitous and we have estimated that broadband access among Sebring prospects exceeds 70 percent. Additionally, many of the vehicle's great new features are complex and can't be effectively conveyed in a 30-second television commercial. As a result, online represents a heavy portion of the total campaign. However, it is important to remember that the online component is but one piece of a fully-integrated 360 degree marketing effort.
Harris: What creative characteristics did you focus on to reach the Sebring's target audience?
Grenier: The Sebring site represented a significant opportunity and challenge for us, as the entire site is comprised of computer generated imagery (CGI). That means that there's no traditional photography. For us, this was a first, and determining the best vehicle angles, colors and backgrounds was an interesting yet rewarding challenge.
Harris: What was your biggest challenge in developing the online components of this integrated campaign?
Grenier: You have to design a piece of creative that will work within the context of highly divergent media environments-- from Time: Person of the Year to People's Sexiest Man Alive to AOL Auto. That's a meaty creative challenge.
Harris: Anything else you'd like to add about the campaign?
Grenier: As is always the case, consumers love to see the vehicle-- inside and out. And, we try to replicate the real-life experience of visiting a dealership, walking around the vehicle and then sitting inside the vehicle. The Chrysler Sebring site represents the best of our six years of learning and continuing to evolve the Chrysler Group sites. The Sebring site boasts a seamless 360-degree exterior view, complete with an elliptical path around the vehicle, and then a stunning true-to-life background with simple mouse-over controls that make the site a real "kick the tires" experience.
Jodi Harris is managing editor of iMedia Connection's Driving Interactive. .