Marketing

Revving up the experience

Chitra Narayanan | Updated on January 19, 2018

Tech in top gear Virtual reality, selfie zones and interactive digital games at play RV MOORTHY, BLOOMBERG AND BY ARRANGEMENT

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Experiential marketing moves a gear higher at the recently concluded AutoExpo



Six lakh people came, saw and cheered as auto-makers unleashed 108 new products. Auto Expo 2016 was all about ritzy launch parties and sexy new cars and bikes. But it was also about new brand promises. From Maruti’s hi-tech sounding ‘Transformotion’ to Tata’s clunky ‘Made of Great’ to Isuzu’s simple ‘Never Stop’.

And it was also about some snazzy experiential marketing, the new brand-building tool, which certainly seemed to have moved up a gear or two from preceding editions. From virtual reality enabled by Oculus Rift and other headsets to selfie zones and interactive arenas where the offline and online worlds collided beautifully, the engagement had a fair bit of technology support.

Aptly enough, the country’s leading automaker Maruti Suzuki led the way, playing on its theme of transformotion.

“Transformotion is change with movement, one that is neither static nor looking backwards, but straight on ahead to the future,” explains Jayanto Banerjee, National Planning Director, Hakuhodo India, the agency behind the campaign. So the camera-studded interactive Play 360 arena at the Maruti pavilion depicted this thought. With one skip or jump you could trigger off a video capture that, with a few swipes on the tablet, landed as an animated GIF on your Facebook page! Even the launches had a fair bit of pyrotechnics. As the covers came off the new compact crossover Vitara Brezza from Maruti Suzuki, the unveiling was accompanied by a kinetic ball show and an orchestra that had innovative instruments like the laser harp, theramin and hang-drums. “The objective was to provide new experiences and technology makes that possible,” said Banerjee, describing how they had been working on the theme, concept, design, engagement and event idea for the Auto Expo for Maruti Suzuki for nine to 10 months.

Interactive zones

JWT’s Encompass, which did the activations for the maximum number of brands at the expo (GM, Fiat, Hyundai, Nissan, Datsun, Mercedes, BMW and TVS), also relied on a fair bit of technology to take the campaign message further. Take Chevrolet’s football themed Passability campaign — Where there is Play, there are possibilities — that aims to deliver 2 million footballs to 60 million kids around the world. At the General Motors pavilion, visitors were urged to kick or head a football that would be captured on video and uploaded on to the Chenvy website to become part of a film.

At Hyundai, the interactive zone had Mind Racing’, a multi-player, digital game where visitors sporting Brainwave headsets had to use their concentration levels that were shown on a real-time scorecard to race their slot cars to the finish line. Hyundai also focused a lot on messages around pollution-free mobility technologies and safe driving experiences.

At Honda, the excitement was over its Internet of Things product — Honda Connect — that has been totally made in India.

Meanwhile, Isuzu Motors kept it simple. Its engagement at the Expo centred around its brand promise of Never Stop and was executed by Swift. “Never Stop not only propels the spirit of adventure which we are fostering with our AUV D-Max V-Cross but also works internally,” said Capt J Shankar Srinivas, Senior General Manager, Brand and Marketing, for Isuzu Motors India. “Externally we are communicating Never Stop achieving, while internally it is about Never Stop innovating,” he said.

The technology edge

So, was technology threatening to overtake the traditional modes of engagement at the auto show? Of course, there were musical performances, street plays, Bollywood star presence and other pull factors too. But it was tech and the ubiquitous selfie contests that created the buzz factor and maximum brand recall.

However, as Banerjee of Hakuhodo summed up, “Technology is just an enabler and makes a lot of experiences possible. But at the core of it is defining the customer experience and engagement quotient.”

Published on February 11, 2016

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