Infiniti Debuts Online Ads

In addition to its new TV and print ads in support of the debut of its new I35 sedan, Infiniti is launching a large Web component designed to reach consumers using interactivity and rich media — continuing the increasing use of online animation, video and audio among automakers.

The integrated campaign, designed by the Playa Del Rey, Calif. office of TBWAChiatDay, aims to position the I35 — with its new 255-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 — as both luxurious and powerful.

But while television, radio and newspaper executions focus largely on promoting the new vehicle’s upscale appeal and power, the campaign’s individual online creatives will address that and several more advertising objectives — such as providing in-depth information on the car’s specific features, and branding for the entire Infiniti product lineup.

As with previous Infiniti advertising from TBWA, the I35 campaign’s online centerpiece hinges on URLs included in the company’s print executions. The links — which reference specific features of the new sedan, such as advanced breaking capabilities — lead to animated, Flash-based “mini-sites.” The sites include quizzes, simulations and other interactive components, as well as the same music as in the campaign’s radio executions.

“We use the jump pages to integrate with the offline world … and to kind of brag about specific features of the vehicle in a more interactive fashion,” said Jason Kuperman, who is director of interactive marketing at TBWA-Playa Del Rey. “Instead of Infiniti having to change its main Web site every time we do a new campaign, [the mini-sites are] an effective and economical way to call out, in a rich media environment, an element of the vehicle — and an opportunity to brand it creatively.”

Ads done in Unicast’s Superstitial rich media interstitial format make for more of a branding pitch. The Flash-based execution shows close-ups of the new sedan’s grille and shots of the car on the road. Copy reads: “Other than its safety features, it shows no restraint. The Infiniti I35. More power, more grace, more I.”

The campaign’s two other rich media executions take a still different route. Skyscrapers and Interactive Advertising Bureau “large rectangles” (called “Big Bangs” internally by the agency) showcase the I35 in the company of other Infiniti vehicles — the Q45, QX4 and G20. In both of the Flash-based units, the ads scroll through the various vehicles, showing pictures and taglines associated with each. Viewers also can select specific vehicles.

The skyscraper and IAB rectangle creatives actually came about largely because of a year-old ad agreement between the Nissan-owned automaker, Excite@Home, and Excite’s ad unit, MatchLogic. With Excite’s efforts to cut down on its media properties, that agreement is now expiring.

“Infiniti had a deal … that got us into doing a lot of rich media stuff for them” on Excite-owned properties, Kuperman said. With the launch of the I35, “in a sort of creative refresh, we decided that it would be really efficient to pool together all the models into navigational banners, so that it promotes most efficiently all the vehicles in the lineup for them.”

“It also adds a layer of interactivity, which we’re big fans of,” he added. “It provides this important level of depth and interactivity, which adds depth to the unit. So if there isn’t necessarily a click-through to a site, the unit still delivers a tremendous branding and information value.”

The ads will finish out Infiniti’s agreement with Excite@Home by running on several of the Web publisher and broadband provider’s Internet properties, as well as a number of other financial sites. The ads will run for about three months.

The campaign comes amid increasing efforts by automotive marketers to use rich media to market their vehicles — even amid dropping consumer confidence and growing reluctance for big spending. During the past several months, Ford and Toyota have both unveiled massive rich media campaigns.

“There’s a huge opportunity for rich media ads,” Kuperman said. “One of the most important ones is its ability to more powerfully evoke an emotional reaction from people. That goes a long way toward branding.”

He added that in keeping this in mind during the creation of Infiniti’s online component, the TBWA interactive team pulled in the account’s offline creative team.

“The online ads are interpretations of the offline executions — very much in same look and feel,” he said. “When we have the online work [for an account], we make sure that the teams that do the offline are involved in creating the online as well. They’re the ones who know the brand better than anyone else.”

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