Radio Drives Web in Loud-Talking Chrysler Campaign

A recent radio and Web effort from Chrysler Group has found considerable online success by leveraging the affinity millions of radio listeners have for their favorite DJs. The “Discover Your Ride” campaign, now midway through a 90-day flight, uses Infinity Broadcasting’s network of 180 stations to drive traffic to local station Web sites, where banners containing a virtual spokesperson issue a second call-to-action.

For Chrysler Group, the goal of the campaign was two-fold: Drive traffic to its Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep brand Web sites, and facilitate the active online research process that is now a mainstay of contemporary car-buying. It’s part of an emerging strategy to place the Web closer to the nucleus of Chrysler’s overall advertising strategy.

“What we are striving for is more integrated marketing campaigns,” said Bonita Stewart, director of interactive communications for Chrysler. “We believe the Internet is the integrator for all campaigns. It is the glue. It assists us in identifying prospects for our cars and trucks and provides a way to move them through our purchase funnel.”

Origins

Richard Lobel is executive VP of Infinity Solutions and Beyond, an in-house group at Infinity that seeks to raise the appeal of radio as an ad medium through inventive, multi-disciplinary campaigns. Earlier this year, Lobel contacted Adi Sideman, president and CEO at rich media firm Oddcast, to discuss collaborating on a campaign for Chrysler. It was clear to both men, and to Chrysler, that online research had become integral to most consumers’ car buying decisions. However, they saw a need to bring a psycho-emotional element to the online car-shopping experience.

“Wouldn’t it be great if [shopping for] cars were not only about a rational purchase but also an emotional decision? Could we come up with a rash of questions that would let people express something about their personal interests? How could we leverage the relationships jocks have with their consumer base in local markets?” were the questions on the table, according to Lobel.

The plan emerged to use a combination of on-air spots and live reads to drive listeners to local station Web sites, where Oddcast’s patented VHost avatars would be waiting to usher them into the Chrysler interface. A click on the banner would launch a Chrysler microsite, consisting of a personality quiz of sorts intended to result in a match between user and new car.

Chrysler’s Stewart liked the idea, and gave Infinity the go-ahead to work with interactive agency of record Organic on it.

Creative

The campaign has so far aired from Thursday to Wednesday during the third week of June and July, and will do the same in August. The on-air creative includes 15 live reads and 40 total spots per station per week.

Throughout this summer, skyscraper ads featuring Discover Your Ride banners remain on local station sites — including between broadcast flights. Users who visit a station’s Web site see a skyscraper ad that contains a VHost whose age, race and gender are targeted according to the station’s demographic.

“Head banger? Boot stomper? Silky smooth? Your music says who you are,” says the in-banner VHost on the Web home of New York oldies station WCBS. “Now discover your ride to match your musical style.”

Clicking through brings the user to Discoveryourride.com, where a (different) female VHost offers a greeting and says, “Ok, here’s the deal. Answer four questions about what you like, and discover your ride. It’s that easy. Ready to rock?”

Four “psychographic” questions are then posed to the visitor: “What’s your ideal weekend getaway?”, “If you could have one superpower, what would it be?”, “What phrase best describes your attitude toward traffic?” and “What’s your favorite kind of movie?”

The visitor chooses from answers presented in a multiple-choice format. Once the survey is completed, three car models appear that are pronounced well-suited to the test-taker’s personality. From there a user can click to learn more about the cars, get a quote, etc.

Results

While the personality test’s methodology may be unconvincing, the overall stickiness appears strong. The campaign has done well in its first two months, with over 200,000 unique visits and an average click-through rate of 1.29 percent. Of those who went to the microsite, six percent continued on to one of Chrysler’s brand Web sites. Brand impact and ROI have not been measured, but Stewart regards the traffic metrics as an indicator of success.

One of the less noticeable accomplishments of the campaign is its successful convergence of two voice mediums.

“The nice thing is the marriage of the radio to the virtual host, because radio speaks and the VHost speaks through virtual dialogue. It helped make the campaign holistic and helped make it a success,” said Oddcast’s Sideman.

The campaign’s success validated Chrysler’s experiments on the Web, especially taken together with the company’s other initiatives.

The automaker has gained a fair amount of attention recently for other unusual online initiatives (as well as for a rebound in its fortunes after a devastating 2003.) It produced several branded online games this year and last through a partnership with interactive game developer Wild Tangent, as well as with Organic. After playing one game called “Race the Pros,” consumer awareness of Dodge brands was up 27.6 percent.

The successes appear to be steamrolling into a much bigger part for the Web in the company’s whole selling chain, from the media buy right through closing. In the case of the Discover Your Ride campaign, online was bundled right into the radio buy.

“[We want to] start to move consumers to our Web sites, where we have the opportunity to provide a much richer brand experience and provide access to the functional tools that will assist in the buying decision,” said Bonita Stewart.

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