Mercedes tries virtual reality with Google Cardboard

The luxury car industry doesn’t benefit from the same product lifecycle as the fashion industry, for example. Because consumers won’t necessarily buy a new car for the next 5 years, car companies have to think of innovative ways to make consumers dream about their brand. Here enters Mercedes and its recent app: Mercedes VR for Cardboard.

Cardboard is Google’s virtual reality tool (VR), enabling consumers to experiment VR at home, while allowing developers to create new apps and improve the system. It’s a great leverage for marketing teams as it’s a tool thanks to which consumers can immerse in a brand’s environment (say, the historic home of a brand), or look at a product in 3D.

Google Cardboard (source: Google)

Google Cardboard (source: Google)

Not many brands have seized this opportunity yet, and Mercedes sets a new standard for both car brands and premium or luxury brands. The Mercedes VR app gives users a taste of a specific model of cars, making them feel like they’re in it. Mercedes strengthens its image of an innovative brand, willing to extend its relationship with consumers beyond stores, purchase, and even beyond CRM and community management. Users get a taste of the car while being on their smartphone – and this is cooler for them than augmented reality on a billboard.

I believe VR will soon be used by more brands, as we see already augmented reality billboards in the streets. Brands can leverage VR technology to tell their story to consumers, which is – as we have seen before – one of luxury brands’ key advantages.

Jaguar reveals your inner villain

I have always dreamt of driving a sports car, just to get a sense of it. Who hasn’t? With all those action movies and Formule 1 races on TV, most of us want to drive at an extreme speed and picture themselves as the next Schumacher, for a brief fantasy of our cooler selves. What a genius move it was from Jaguar North America to leverage this child dream of ours last year. The brand’s multi-channel “British Villains” campaign promoted the F-Type Coupe, the brand’s newest high-performance sports car at the time, which was to be launched in July 2014 in the US.

Credits: Jaguar North America

Credits: Jaguar North America

You may have heard of Jaguar’s 2014 Super Bowl 60-second spot… Yes, the brand really went for it! (It was Jaguar’s first spot during a Super Bowl, and we all know those spots are quite pricey.) Featuring three renowned British blockbuster actors (Sir Ben Kingsley, Tom Hiddleston and Mark Strong), the spot was filmed by awarded movie director Tom Hooper. It promoted the tagline “It’s good to be bad”, appealing to customers’ inner villains, and launched the hashtag #GoodToBeBad. A spectacular launch for a spectacular campaign, which helped the British brand challenge its competitors on the North American luxury cars market.

Let’s jump to the online side of the campaign (as cool as the spot may be, you are after all on a blog called Digitizing luxury). Aside from online ads and community management (what I like to call the classics, or basics, given nearly everyone does it), Jaguar launched an application process for wannabe sports car drivers. The idea was to create a Jaguar Villain Academy (keeping the marketing communications very coherent, as you can see) and make four lucky contestants win a trip to Austin, TX, to try the new car before its launch, in July.

The best part? Winners wouldn’t just drive the car; they would spend a full day with the car, testing its capabilities, performance and handling on the Formula 1 track in Austin. Yes, you read me well. Way cooler than playing Gran Turismo on your screen, right? How’s that for a motivation to share content about Jaguar on your social media accounts? The brand promoted the application page on social media and applicants were asked to indicate their Instagram and Twitter accounts, indicating a social media campaign (nothing surprising here). A few months later, contestants were contacted by e-mail and asked to complete challenges. This campaign encountered quite a success on social media, with loads of shares and retweets or regrams.

Sir Ben Kingsley, Tom Hiddleston and Mark Strong in the British Villains campaign. Credits: Jaguar

Sir Ben Kingsley, Tom Hiddleston and Mark Strong in the British Villains campaign. Credits: Jaguar.

Jaguar North America also leveraged the potential of branded content. Several partnerships were created, including one with Sports Illustrated. Jaguar sponsored an original video series talking about infamous sports villains on SI.com. The two companies thereby made their respective fields meet to increase both of their audiences. Another great idea was the partnership between Jaguar and Pandora Radio: subscribers were offered to contribute to a crowdsourced playlist (the GoodToBeBad Mixtape) of the best of British music.

Therefore you see that Jaguar went all in to engage with its fan-base, through those means and many other channels (I chose to focus on social media and branded content, but there were more channels used, including online). Featured in countless media pieces, this campaign sure made a buzz.