Darkcasting: using social media celebs to sell

25 Nov

I happened upon some YouTube videos (links highlighted below) put up by Toyota to sell their Lexus CT200h. Like a lot of car ads, they use celebs.

Unlike most, the celebs are social media sweetie-pies. This gave me a good follow-up post to yesterday’s entry about the importance of shareable content.

There are about a dozen five-minute segments called Darkcasting, hosted by comedienne Whitney “I don’t Google myself because porn comes up” Cummings. Lexus proclaims these the first ever in-car talk shows.

The idea here is that the social media celebs – including San Francisco’s Brian Solis, and New Yorker Baratunde Thurston, Web editor of Onion – answer Cummings penetrating questions about what they do and then get to hear a bit about the car they’re driving. It’s all very breezy and light.

The celebs then tweet, blog and do their social media thing about the experience.

Great idea in theory. These spots cannot have cost much to produce (low production values and comparatively cheap talent), and there is no media budget behind them. The viral catalysts (potential anyway) are popular, well-followed experts who presumably know how to get the word out.

All good. A smart social idea.

The only sobering note on all this excellent planning is that none of the videos has yet to receive more than 1,000 views, except the 30-second Intro segment, which is just traditional advertising.

I love that they’re using key influencers, but I suspect the lack of authenticity in the endorsement of the vehicle is what’s got the gears grinding on these.


7 Responses to “Darkcasting: using social media celebs to sell”

  1. variedthinking November 25, 2010 at 9:44 am #

    If their wanting these ad’s to go viral, which is the “in thing” to have happen today on Youtube then their going to have to resort to “guerilla marketing” in some form or another or as we have discussed in the past make them totally stupid for the IQ of most Americans, which is probably their shoe size.

    Oops, did I say that.

  2. margriet aasman November 25, 2010 at 9:56 am #

    It’s all still advertising and looks like it too. There has to be something to catch attention that says nothing about the car, and is totally clever. And probably, like the variedthinking says, a touch of ‘stupidity’ (silliness might be nicer) that most people will latch on to. I’m thinking the Old Spice ads, and they are oh so clever!

  3. dougbrowncreative November 25, 2010 at 10:13 am #

    I’m with both of you on this, variedthinking and Margriet. There is nothing less likely to succeed than a stated intent to “go viral”. This is a clever strategy – bringing in key influencers – but as soon as the heavy-handed selling of the car began, I stopped watching. The remaining question is, how did this campaign perform in terms of perception of the brand?

  4. variedthinking November 25, 2010 at 10:47 am #

    I have never really like non-north americian car companies. Yes I for a time drove a Toyota, but the Cola-Colca cans it was made out off could’nt stand the salt that the BC Highway contractors put on the interior roads and watching those video’s don’t sell me but everyone is different and they might appeal to the urban dwellers, like the ad’s they run in major magazines that show classy cars.

    As I said in my first comment, “viral” and “guerilla marketing” are what’s selling people on products and/or sheer stupidity, but not driving around NY,NY. BORING

  5. tom hammarberg November 25, 2010 at 11:20 am #

    There’s a much better and more established version of this out of the UK. Robert LLewellyn (British actor) has been creating his own car chat-show for a couple of years now. The value content is all in the informal and entertaining interviews he’s conducts. The car itself barely features. No glossy exterior shots, no feature hawking unless the person he interviews asks an unprompted question about the hybrid in which the interview is being conducted.

    In that respect it’s a much more of a traditional sponsorship deal, although the distribution and reach is generated through social media channels. He uses twitter to pose viewers questions, posts content on youtube & iTunes and has reached 4million downloads.
    Here’s the link

  6. Jody Beck November 25, 2010 at 11:29 am #

    From the two videos I did make myself watch, it was apparent why neither had gone “viral”. The influencers were interesting in their own right, but connecting them with the car… meh… too much disconnect.

    I much preferred the Toyota Swagger Wagon videos. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ql-N3F1FhW4 7,429,566 views and counting. Plus, they were intended to go viral. Whether it’s low budget or high, the fundamentals remain the same. Know your audience. Make it emotional. If the target owns the message, they will share. And yes, I’m a genxer; that’s why I like the vid so much.

  7. dougbrowncreative November 25, 2010 at 11:40 am #

    > Tom, that was good re-direct. What I found really cool about it was having advertisers at the start of the video! Advertisers within ads.

    > Thanks JB, that was a great vid. Finally directors can do their director’s cuts without having to worry about the ensuing media costs. Plays like a music video. I wonder how far away the marriage of new music and corporate advertising is…

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