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Mitsubishi Creates 'Social Media Artifacts'

  |  April 23, 2012   |  Comments

Auto brand hopes TV, online, and Facebook will drive foot traffic to dealers.

mitsubishi22Mitsubishi's "Temp Drive" campaign is employing so-called social media artifacts to document real - and not so real - people testing its 2012 Outlander Sport. The artifacts - marketing content masquerading as user-generated content - will ultimately live on the brand's Facebook Timeline.

But the integrated campaign is unfolding in three phases. On April 16, it began with :30 TV spots created by 180LA, the automaker's agency of record. The ad copy tells consumers, "There's no way to experience all the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport has to offer in a standard test drive." Viewers are pointed to Temp Drive's online hub, where they can sign up for a chance to win a day off driving around in the car - with a temp filling in for them at their places of employment.

And not just any temp. Mitsubishi has an opera singer, magician, DJ, librarian, meteorologist, and rocket scientist standing by to take the three winners' places at work.

"The TV commercial showcases what an ideal day off might be," said Grant Holland, creative director, 180LA. "Next, we want to show what happens when people get a real day off."

The first phase lasts three weeks, during which visitors to the campaign's online hub can choose from three trim styles for the Outlander Sport vehicle and then select the temp they'd like to have.

Phase two, after the day-off contest closes, will include new TV spots sending people back to the website to see who won. Phase two is also where the social artifacts come in. This effort will include creative use of the Facebook Timeline to provide a realistic but not actual version of what someone's day off with the car might have been like.

Nathan Thompson, creative director for Possible Worldwide, the agency handling the digital component, explained, "It's a bit like performance art. We're telling the story and showing it through social artifacts. We're framing it as entertainment."

Thompson was cagey with specifics about the web and Facebook experiences for phase two. While most social media marketing involves aggregating user-generated content, he noted, this campaign instead is producing original, professional content and distributing it in a consumer-like way. A tab on Mitsubishi's Facebook page will encourage the brand's 322,000 likes/fans to participate.

"We will lean heavily on the Facebook API to create a custom experience," Thompson said. "We want to mimic what that day would be like if it were posted to a Facebook Timeline."

In phase three, site visitors will be able to see video documenting both the days-off winners and the temping experience. The actual temp days will take place mid-May, and the goal is to post the video onsite by the end of that month, Holland said.

TV spots, the online hub, and Facebook are the main media for the campaign, along with 15-second video pre-roll ads on Google TV and YouTube promoted videos. Said Thompson from Possible, "This campaign did not go with banner ads. Television was significant enough. TV illustrates what is on the web; the real push is to go online."

Beefing up Mitsubishi's Facebook following is a central part of the company's general social media strategy. At the same time, ads will not be purchased for Facebook or other social networks during this campaign. Parties involved wouldn't disclose the media spend, but they emphasized that, compared to other car companies' campaigns, it was on the small side.

Of course, the real payoff for Mitsubishi will come if people go to a dealer for that test drive. While the consumers probably won't get to take an Outlander to the beach for the day, Holland from 180LA said, "All the dealers have embraced the idea. They will be more than happy for you to drive it around for as long as you want."


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Susan Kuchinskas

Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.

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