I doubt that there is a single car manufacturer left, who uses no video content on his website. The reasons them to be clear: First, video on the web signalizes progressivity, that’s an image that every car brand wants to radiate. Second, video helps to transfer emotions, to create the atmosphere of the brand.
But here we touch an important issue in car marketing - Cars are products which are situated between two contradictory poles: Yes , cars are very emotional products, customers often buy a certain brand because they think it matches their lifestyle or because a certain status is connected to the car. But the second important issue for buying decisions are the technical facts. Cars are high-technology goods, many customers know the fact sheet of their ‘baby’ by heart.
So which direction to go for car marketing? Emotion or Information?
Many car companies safeguard against this problem with detailed product websites, which list all the technical details of all available models on hundreds of sites. Of course, only ready-to-buy costumers browse these sites and search for detailed information. Video-driven micro-sites have become more and more important to create awareness for new models. But which is the direction to go with these micro-sites? Concentrate on the affective, emotional and entertaining actions of the video? Or integrate some informational parts?
Many car-microsites try to do both: Create entertaining and thrilling stories and integrate some product features into the story. Let’s see some of their approaches:
Mercedes-Benz C-Class (german)
A very nice idea for the new C-Class. A C-Class owner picks up strangers who walk by his car. On the drive it turns out that the unknown passengers know more about the car than the protagonist. Therefore the talk about some of the product features blends harmonically into the story.
Nice usage of split screens (for example different emotions on the faces of the driver and the passengers). Also good interactive parts – on some points the user has to choose between two story path. There is a tight countdown (10 sec.) for this decision, what evokes the users attention.
The success of the Audi-microsite is mostly resulting from its stunning visuals. The sportswagon races over an artificial 3D-track. On some points the movement is freezed and phrases of product features appear. Although the quality of information is quite low, it’s a very subtle integration of product details, not disturbing the atmosphere of the video clip.
The Volvo site is a good example, what web designers can learn from filmmakers. Here, the product features are integrated into the story very well. You have a dramatic story, great acting, suprises, nice photography. On the other hand, the interactive integration into the site is quite poor. You notice easily, that the story has originally been crated as one coherent spot and than has been split up into parts to give it an interactive touch.
A really nice idea of the Volvo site is to have a second storyline by integrating some interviews with the 3 protagonists. All of them have their very own (and very different) view onto what happens. That gives the story an intelligent humoristic atmosphere.
The first article is online here!
As more and more websites use video content, linear narrative structures compete with the decentral logic of the hypertextual internet.
It the first part of three papers on the growing importance of storytelling on the web.