How storytelling is shaping the automotive industry
Today, a story can be squeezed in to 140-characters and posted on Twitter, but have a much greater effect than a thousand page book or a flashy TV presentation. Telling stories has become a technique and a tool for building brand relationships and positioning products to consumers. The enormous burst of digital and social media, as well as content marketing, has allowed marketers to tell their brand’s story and in such way create a more direct link between their consumers. What is more, the digital age has enabled everyone to be a storyteller.
The automotive industry is increasingly using digital storytelling
Digital storytelling has opened new doors for all sorts of content creators, from journalists and copywriters to motivational speakers and CEOs, bringing it directly to the workplace. The automotive industry is no exception when using the power of storytelling to build brand relationships and market products directly to consumers. For years well-known automakers have been establishing their brands with unique stories, characterizing the brands’ image, values and personality: Volkswagen is the trustworthy family companion taking your family on an adventurous trip; BMW is the sporty yet sophisticated business colleague, occasionally outperforming other traffic goers; Ferrari is the agile and luxurious best friend, guaranteeing the desired burst of adrenalin.
Recently, automakers started turning back to storytelling to explore new and inventive ways to enhance their brand awareness and reach new audiences. Today digital storytelling is by far one of the most prioritized tools applied in marketing. Whether using celebrity endorsements, stunning visual effects or state of the art technological advancements, digital storytelling facilitates successful automotive marketing and takes it to a whole new level.
7 examples of outstanding digital storytelling of the most important car manufacturers
We’ve compiled seven distinctive, innovative and impressive digital storytelling cases designed by the biggest automotive makers in the business.
The interactive online novel “The Vanishing Game” portrays the core value, the adventurism, of the Land Rover brand.
Automaker Land Rover takes digital storytelling to a whole new level pairing fiction with real life automotive adventure. The Vanishing Game was launched as an interactive version of British author William Boyd’s novel about captivating yet enigmatic driving experience in the United Kingdom. As the protagonist drives around in his Land Rover Defender across the country, readers are carried through a very life-like Tumblr page filled with multi-sensory experience: interactive text, videos, backgrounds, sounds and narration. Divided into chapters, these contain embedded links and clickable action words, that either further explain the story in more detail or present videos of Land Rovers connected to the plot. Click on the word “river” and a rumbling Land Rover will present itself wandering through picturesque waterways. When it seems like the interactive content could not be more surprising, some parts of it showcase actual Land Rover owners’ journeys, which were shared as part of the #WellStoried campaign a few months prior to the launch. Click on “forest” and a collection of user-submitted photos of Land Rovers in forests appear on the screen. The interactive online novel thus portrays the core value, the adventurism, of the Land Rover brand.
Created by Y&R; New York together with Tool of North America, the Vanishing Game is a fully interactive digital book, taking one step further in the advancements of publishing. Although it is somewhat unconventional to pair high literature with online integration supported by social media, the publishing world could use more of such successful digital storytelling examples. The multi-sensory execution together with sharable content complement the story in every possible step, which probably could not reach such a strong level of visualization when only imagining it for yourself. The 17,000-word e-book is available for free on Kindle and iBooks.
Honda teamed up with Wieden + Kennedy London and acclaimed director Daniel Wolfe to create an interactive dual-story video titled “The Other Side” for its best-selling model Civic and its sportier counterpart Civic Type R.
Here we meet an ordinary looking male protagonist who seems to have a secret double life, revealed only once the button ‘R’ is pressed on the keyboard.
The Other Side unfolds two stories in parallel tales, one during the day and the other, filled with high-adrenalin, set at night. Switching through parallel storylines, the protagonist also “adapts” to fit the driven vehicle’s characteristics: the caring father by day, who’s picking his kids up from school in a white Civic, to an undercover cop speed-driving through the city with a couple of art dealers in a red Civic Type R. The effect of seeing the other story is enticing and effective, and positions Honda not only among the high-performance engineers, but also among the technologically advanced digital storytellers.
The video is an entertaining transition for the viewers while the capabilities of both cars are showcased between the parallel stories. Although it is only 2:55 minutes long, it captures the viewer from the very first seconds, keeping the suspense throughout the entire time until the climax of the story at the very end. The parallel storyline content is simple but mind-blowing: you watch the first story, you push the button to see the parallel one, and then you just can’t stop pushing and holding, over and over again.
The six-episode docu-series focuses on rather intimate stories, all concentrated on the personal struggles and achievements related to sexual orientation. The well-known actors, musicians and athletes are all part of the LGBT community, in this way signifying Lexus’ continuous support for LGBT rights. The brand appeals to a wider target audience, mainly focusing on the younger generation, who is more likely to value content and creativity rather than traditional means of advertising. Moreover, the choice to hire contrasting actors, who also bring a certain demographic fan base, is thoroughly executed.
What differentiates Lexus’ “It Got Better” project from other automotive storytelling campaigns is the hardly noticeable, and therefore not overwhelming, endorsement. Lexus logo is seen in the beginning of each video, however the topic of the stories presented does not have anything in common with cars. Moreover, even though the videos are presented in a simple style format, not featuring interactive options like parallel storylines or virtual reality, the stories reach a very deep and intimate level of personal storytelling. And this is where the magic happens – personalization wins over the customers’ hearts. Once and again.
Lincoln motor company, that positions itself among the more luxurious automobiles, presents two recent storytelling campaigns drawing inspiration from music, art, design and film.
In the beginning of last year Lincoln joined forces with recording artist Aloe Blacc to create an interactive music video titled “Love is the Answer”, offering viewers the chance to switch between five storylines. Four of these include different characters and one presents a director’s cut, and while all start off from different points, they all meet in the same space at the end. The video ends with all five plots showing the protagonist Aloe getting into his luxurious Lincoln MKZ. The unique interactive experience provided by this video allows consumers to experience their own musical journey, thus leaving it up to personal choice to view the character one sympathises with the most.
The second platform – “Hello Again” – was created by Lincoln to re-position the brand from its associated characteristics of ‘town cars’ and ‘old people’. The company chose award-winning singer and songwriter Beck and music video director Chris Milk to create an interactive online concert available for anyone with an Internet connection. A series of new technologies was built specifically for this production. It incorporated a 360-degree rig equipped with GoPro cameras to capture the complete picture from all possible angles. Facial tracking system was enabled by virtual reality to allow online users to scroll the screen by tilting their head and thus replicating what they would see at the actual concert. Furthermore, for the first time, a series of 360-degree binaural audio microphones resembling heads were created to measure how a real person would hear the sound. This enabled users to hear the sound exactly like in real life when rotating the head, humanizing the overall user experience.
A few days after the project’s launch, Lincoln website generated a 300 percent increase in traffic, positioning the brand, once again, among the popular car manufacturers. Topped with excellently constructed surrounding sound and visuals, as well as stunning virtual reality, “Hello Again” is an innovative and entertaining user-experience.
Good digital storytelling does not have to accord to a certain medium. BMW automaker created an app, celebrating interactive experience and personalization.
“BMW Individual” allows users to navigate through different parts of the app using an innovative user interface. It highlights the automaker’s wide range of customizable vehicles, presenting a broad spectrum of interior and exterior options. Promoting the BMW Individual Manufactory program, the app challenges users to enable certain functions, such as tapping, sliding or rubbing on the content to unlock new images and text.
The presentation is packed with various animated pictures and interactive features, such as flipping through different pages of content. The realistic depiction of colors and materials resembles virtual reality feel, while the visualizer option supports the luxury of customization. Overall the app resembles an interactive storybook, motivating and inspiring consumers to create their own individual automobile story.
Mercedes-Benz automaker also does not fall off the digital storytelling bandwagon. The German manufacturer developed an augmented reality app for the new C-Class model.
The app is enabled by pointing the device’s camera to a printed-out target image, where a 3D model of the car comes to life right on the device screen. The car can then be rotated and re-scaled, offering not only an exterior look and its technical advancements, but also a peak into the sleek interior. Users are able to play around with the model’s colors and therefore experience its elegant looks and functionality without going to the dealership. All in all, the app provides an exciting, innovative and life-like digital automobile story on your personal device.
The Czech automaker completely destroys the usually boring catalog standard by creating a fully functional and innovative app users will likely appreciate. Both interior and exterior are presented in a 360-degree view, allowing for the most detailed presentation and experience. Users can build their customized cars by changing body colors, wheels and specific interior details. The range of innovative features also includes a technical assistant function, featuring informative videos and integrated links, as well as a dealer test drive reservation option to go from the interactive experience to the actual streets. When users create their ‘dream cars’, they can share their visions with family and friends, allowing for a great execution of user-generated content.