Mercedes-Benz has used Twitter to enable viewers to select the ending of the car brand’s latest U.K. TV advertising campaign.
At the heart of the campaign is a series of three TV ads to promote the car brand’s new A-Class vehicle to younger consumers. The commercials feature a musician, played by Kane Robinson—better known as British rapper Kane O—and a professional driver who are chased by the authorities on their way to a secret gig.
At the end of the first, 60-second ad which aired during the first break of Saturday’s live edition of The X Factor, the audience is invited to choose what happens next by voting via Twitter using the hashtag #YOUDRIVE. The ending selected was then bolted onto the first ad and the full 90-second version aired 24 hours later during the first break of the show’s Sunday-night live edition.
Each spot directed viewers to a dedicated YouTube channel where the ad could be viewed with either alternate ending, and tools were available for viewers to customize their own version. Viewers engaging with the campaign also had an opportunity to win extras.
"Driving Facebook 'Likes’ inspired by a 30-second TV spot, and using Shazam to enable viewers to engage with TV ads for additional content and exclusive offers has become a growing area of interest in recent months," says James Kirkham, managing partner and cofounder of London-based digital creative content and social agency Holler, part of Publicis Groupe-owned Leo Burnett. "Now, using Twitter to choose the outcome of a TV commercial as the ad plays out demonstrates the next step with brand ads in traditional media providing a gateway to a social, interactive, and value-adding experience."
Holler, whose past credits include one of the earliest social media campaigns for the launch of a broadcast TV series—youth drama Skins, which made its debut on E4 back in 2006—handled all social media activation and implementation activity for Mercedes’ new campaign, which was created by AMV BBDO.
Ahead of the TV ad’s broadcast, the campaign was promoted via a YouTube trailer and print advertising. Twitter traffic at this point from the #YOUDRIVE hashtag was monitored and selected tweeters "won" limited edition, personalized movie posters which credited them by name as one of the forthcoming campaign’s producers.
Once the TV ad was on air, socially engaged viewers had a chance to secure promotional offers and win prizes by spotting clues hidden in the ads when viewing online. Though the ads won’t be broadcast on TV again, the campaign will continue to run online until early December.
"Mercedes wants to appeal to a younger, modern audience," AMV BBDO Chief Executive Ian Pearman explains. "The challenge is that it is a brand with a perceived driver age of someone in their forties—a decade older than the perceived age of someone who drives an Audi or BMW."
The creative strategy was intended to tackle this issue by positioning Mercedes as a social advertising innovator. Success will be measured through evaluation of brand perceptions and assessing audience feedback from Twitter and YouTube as well as the number of click-throughs requesting test drives.
"By using social media in a smart way any traditional ad, be it on TV, in print, or billboard has the potential to become a wormhole of interest—a gateway that leads the audience to more stuff," says Kirkham. "Be that offers or prizes, deeper engagement, or an enriched experience, it’s all about creating a social moment."