How digital storytelling is shaping the automotive industry

Timo Lamour

7 examples of outstanding digital storytelling campaigns by major automotive manufacturers

7 examples of outstanding digital storytelling campaigns by major automotive manufacturers

Today, a 140-character story posted on Twitter can have a greater impact than 1000 pages of paper or an extravagant TV ad. Storytelling is a technique and tool for brands to build strong customer loyalty, position the brand and bring it to the buyer.

The enormous boom in digital media, especially social media and content marketing, enables marketers to tell their brand story for these media and connect directly with customers. Basically, in the digital age, everyone who communicates in the new media is a digital storyteller.

The automotive industry is increasingly using digital storytelling

Digital storytelling has opened the doors for many content creators - whether journalist, copywriter, speaker or CEO - they all use storytelling for their goals. The automotive industry is no exception, quite the contrary. Manufacturers use storytelling to shape brand image and build a relationship with customers. Over the years, well-known automakers have characterized their brands with unique stories: Volkswagen is the trustworthy family companion, for exciting outings; BMW is the sporty yet sophisticated business colleague that easily outshines other road users; and Ferrari, the agile and luxurious best friend that always provides the adrenaline kick you want.

Recently, well-known car manufacturers have started to focus more on storytelling around the individual driving experience again, trying new ways to reach their target groups in other ways. Nowadays, digital storytelling is the preferred tool in marketing. What's interesting here is the wide range of possibilities, from the inclusion of famous testimonials to impressive visual effects and the use of technical features - digital storytelling is taking the automotive industry's brand campaigns to a new level.

7 examples of outstanding digital stories from the most important carmakers

We took a closer look at 7 striking, impressive and innovative examples of digital storytelling from the biggest carmakers on the market.

1. land rover - the vanishing game

The interactive online novella "The Vanishing Game" portrays the brand essence "adventure" of the Land Rover brand in a gripping way.

Land Rover as an example for Storytelling in the Automotive Industry

Car manufacturer Land Rover is taking digital storytelling to a whole new level by mixing fiction with real-life adventures of drivers. The Vanishing Game was released as an interactive version of author William Boyd's novella about thrilling and mysterious driving experiences in the United Kingdom. The protagonist drives his Land Rover Defender across the country, taking the reader on an almost true-to-life journey through the multimedia story, which features interactive text, videos, sounds and touch points.

The story is divided into different chapters, which contain embedded links and clickable "action words" that either tell more details about the story or lead to videos that fit the plot. For example, clicking on the word "River - Fluss" presents a Land Rover struggling through scenic waterscapes. Just when you think the interactive content couldn't get any more surprising, you come across the experiences of Land Rover owners who contributed their part to the story. For this, Land Rover had launched a hashtag campaign a few months before the story was published. Thus, when you click on "forest - forest" a collection of submitted photos appears that show Land Rover in forests.

The project was implemented by Y&R, New York in collaboration with Tool North America and represents the expansion of publishing offerings. Even if it is unusual to mix sophisticated literature and crowdsourcing social media content, the media world can take this project as a model. The 17,000-word book is also available as an eBook for Kindle, iBooks, and Fire tablets.

2. honda "The Other Side

Honda has teamed up with Wieden + Kennedy London and director Daniel Wolfe to create an interactive two-page video story called "The Other Side," starring its most successful model, the Honda Civic, and its sporty counterpart, the Civic Type R.

Honda as an example for Storytelling in the Automotive Industry

When you play the video you will first see an ordinary appearing protagonist, but by pressing the "R" key you can reveal the secret double life.

The Other Side is divided into two parallel stories, one taking place during the day, while the other is set at night, packed with adrenaline and adventure. Jumping between scenes, the protagonist adapts the look of the corresponding car. During the day we see a loving family man picking up his kids from school in a white Civic, while in the night scene he races through town in a red Civic Type R and encounters a group of dealers.

The exciting effect of them setting scenes on each other and the very well realized story, solidifies Honda's position as one of the pioneers in automotive technology.

The story in the video is entertaining and perfectly shows the advantages of each model. Despite being only 2:55 minutes long, the video creates a high level of engagement with the content. The parallel story concept is simple yet incredibly effective. You won't be able to stop jumping between the stories.

3. lexus "L Studio

Lexus, along with the Team One and It Gets Better projects, created a storytelling hub called "It Got Better," which runs on the L/Studio Broadband channel and compiles stories from stars.

L Studio as an example for Storytelling in the Automotive Industry

The 6-episode documentary series focuses on very intimate stories around the stars' personal issues, experiences and achievements related to their sexual orientation. The well-known actors, musicians and athletes are all part of the LGBT community, further publicly reinforcing Lexus' support for the community's rights. The brand is thus trying to appeal to a younger generation that values creative campaigns rather than traditional marketing. The selection of stars was also made with a young target group in mind.

What sets the Lexus "It Got Better" campaign apart from other automakers' campaigns is the inconspicuous branding. The Lexus logo appears at the beginning of each video, but the brand or the car theme in general play no role in the stories. The videos also don't need any special digital storytelling technology, because they win over viewers through authentic, touching experiences and honest stories. And that's how they succeed in getting into the viewer's heart and anchoring themselves there emotionally with the brand.

4. Lincoln's "Love is the Answer" and "Hello Again"

Lincoln Motor Company, which positions itself among the more luxurious automakers, presents not one but two storytelling campaigns that draw inspiration from music, art and film.

Lincoln as an example for Storytelling in the Automotive Industry

Early last year, Lincoln teamed up with musician Aloe Blacc to produce the interactive music video titled "Love is the Answer." The video allows viewers to choose between 5 different storylines. 4 of the videos feature different characters and the fifth video features the director's cut. Although all the characters start in a different place, they end in the same place. The video ends in all 5 plots with the protagonist Aloe getting into his luxurious Lincoln MKZ. The unique experience created by the video allows customers to start their own musical journey and watch the video from the perspective of the most likeable character.

The "Hello Again" campaign was created by Lincoln to reposition itself away from "town cars and old people." The company chose award-winning singer-songwriter Beck and music video director Chris Milk for an online concert that was accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. The project involved creating new technologies and trying new combinations. It included a 360-degree platform equipped with GoPro cameras. This allowed images to be captured from all perspectives. A facial tracking system was used for the virtual reality aspect, allowing viewers to scroll the screen with their head movement, creating the feeling of being live on location. Even more, for the first time, a series of 360-degree binaural audio microphones were developed in the form of heads that could measure how a real person would perceive the sound. This technology allows users to hear the sound lifelike when the head is moved.

Technology enables a much more human experience. With great success! A few days after the project's release, the Lincoln website generated over 300% more traffic and repositioned itself as a modern popular car brand. Equipped with excellently created sound and visuals and impressive virtual reality, "Hello Again" is an innovative and entertaining user experience.

5. BMW Individual App

BMW has created a personal, interactive connection to the customer with the "BMW Individual" app.

BMW as an example for Storytelling in the Automotive Industry

The app features an innovative user interface that allows users to navigate through the app in an entertaining way. The app highlights the large range of customizable models and presents the wide spectrum of interiors and exteriors. The BMW Individual program is presented interactively, so users have to actively click, swipe or rub to make new and partly animated images and texts appear. Of particular interest to the user is the realistic representation of the colors and materials with which the vehicles can be individualized. In summary, the app is an interactive storybook that inspires and motivates users to create their own dream car.

6th Mercedes-Benz C-Class Augmented Reality

The car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz does not have to hide behind the other storytelling campaigns. The augmented reality app for the C-Class brings a 3D model of the car to life.

Mercedes as an example for Storytelling in the Automotive Industry

To do this, the user must first print out a picture. The app recognizes marker points on the image and then displays the model. The user can literally touch the car, adjust its size and color, and take a look at the equipment. So far, interested parties have only been able to experience this at dealerships. All in all, the app provides an innovative way to view and interact with products.

7. ŠKODA Interactive Catalog

Škoda's interactive catalog app shows 3D models of various Škoda cars, combined with the ability to personalize and customize these models to meet customer needs.

The Czech automaker is breaking out of the mold of boring glossy catalogs by taking full advantage of mobile apps. Both interiors and exteriors are displayed in 360-degree views, providing a detailed look at the cars presented. Users can share paint schemes, tires and interior details. Other great features include a technology assistant and test drive reservations. Users can also share their self-created dream cars with friends and family, driving user-generated content and social network sharing.

To learn more about the tremendous potential of digital storytelling, schedule a conversation with one of our experts today.

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