-Objective three: To heighten brand visibility for the primary and secondary audiences from televised content by 80% by December 2012, at a cost of $500,000.
1) Product Placement in season 8 of Curb Your Enthusiasm. This show could be a great opportunity for Bentley to display its newest models on a popular program that portrays the life of a rich and famous individual, Larry David (HBO, 2011). Bentley vehicles would be perfect to reflect the style of the brand’s target audience. Curb Your Enthusiasm has prompted extensive online dialogue from the show’s fans over the past decade, which can allow Bentley to track noticeable increases in brand mentions online (HBO, 2011). With the show’s audience covering a diverse range of demographics, Bentley can spread its visibility, while narrowing its image. People will come to associate Bentley vehicles even more with wealth and success, while discussing the cars and the show on social networks and chat forums. To execute this initiative, Bentley needs to make a product placement deal with Wildfire Studios, the production house of Curb Your Enthusiasm. From there, Bentley PR representatives would need to publicize the deal in digital entertainment magazines, so the target audiences could access the news on computers, tablets and phones.
2) Develop an online show, “Becoming Bentley.” Ford Motor Company created an online show that followed teams of couples as they completed challenges in the 2012 Ford Focus. This show, Focus Rally, was a major success with Ford’s target audience of young, technology-savvy adults, scoring 30,000 at-home followers (Ford, 2011). Bentley could be the first luxury automaker to develop a web show that generates online interactivity from contestants and viewers. The show would be composed of 8 teams of two people who would “re-live” Bentley’s development as a company. For example, the first challenge would be to race a new Bentley GT at Le Mans in honor of the company’s first visit to the 24 Hours of Le Mans race with their 3-liter in 1923 (Bentley website, 2011). The slowest teams would be eliminated. In another challenge, contestants would chauffeur some celebrities around in a classic 1952 Bentley Mark VI (Bentley website, 2011). The teams that offered the most luxurious driving experience would move on to the next challenge. The show would conclude with a single team that had successfully navigated the entire history of Bentley and would win $50,000. To promote online engagement, Bentley would create a special website where viewers could vote on upcoming challenge options, could give his or her preferred team an advantage of some sort (like time bonuses) and could play online games and answer trivia. This tactic would be a bit more costly and labor-intensive, but Bentley would see a surge in online engagement, especially with its primary audience. The web show would run from September to November 2012.
3) Pitch an interview with Bentley Motors North American President, Christophe Georges on 60 Minutes. In an effort to reach Bentley’s secondary audience, the brand should arrange to have its U.S. chief be interviewed on the show, discussing the brand’s latest activity online and offline. The executive could answer questions about the new technology in the vehicles, the company’s growth since the recession, and how the brand is making itself a two-way communicator online. This could be a perfect way to reach its secondary audience, which is similar to the show’s target demographic, that may want to interact more with Bentley, but has yet to reach out to them online (Journalism.org, 2005). Bentley’s PR team should do media relations to publicize the 60 Minutes feature, and follow up the interview with online content for the primary audience who may not watch the show, but may still be interested in the interview. With this tactic, Bentley can merge its audiences to its consolidated online presence.
“Curb Your Enthusiam: Forums and News.” HBO. Web. 04 Dec. 2011. <http://www.hbo.com/curbyourenthusiam/talk.html>.
“Focus Rally: America Wraps up 6,000-Mile Road Rally on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’” Blog.Ford. 17 Mar. 2011. Web. 4 Dec. 2011.
Bentley Motors Website. Nov. 2011. Web. 04 Dec. 2011. <http://www.bentleymotors.com/>.
“Nightly News Audience Demographics.” Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ). Journalism.org, 15 Mar. 2005. Web. 05 Dec. 2011. <http://www.journalism.org/node/884>.
** Part 5 of an 8-part Bentley Motors Campaign Plan**
-Objective two: To increase Bentley vehicle video sharing and feedback 120% by June 2012 at a cost of $400,000.
1) Launch a user-generated video contest for aspiring owners to describe, in three minutes or less, the Bentley brand and the status vehicle ownership would bring to their lives. The winner would receive a brand new Bentley Continental GT for a month. The contest would run from April to May 2012. The restrictions include: no profanity or violence, three-minute maximum and single-camera production. Those who submit videos would receive votes on a specially-designed contest website and the winners after one month win the grand prize. The top five videos get the car for a month while the five runners-up get VIP passes to the 2012 Concours D’Elegance show at Pebble Beach in California. This tactic encourages the primary target audience to share their submissions with friends, vote on the Bentley website and comment on videos. Essentially, the only costs for Bentley are the prizes.
2) Designate a team of three people to operate Bentley’s social networking profiles and engage with both secondary audiences via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other networks. With targeted engagement, Bentley can reach out to its audience that spends hours each day on social networks. This is a great opportunity for Bentley to become a thought-leader in the niche of vehicle technology and luxury manufacturing. From the Twitter account, Bentley can share its latest activity, answer customer questions publicly, share interesting bits of information about what goes into building a Bentley, educate consumers about auto industry trends and communicate its history as a brand. From its YouTube account, Bentley can make brief videos with exclusive interviews with upper-management and engineers. From its Facebook page, the brand can hold minor contests and help cultivate the brand’s image through testimonials, etc. The only cost to Bentley is staffing the community management team, yet the digital engagement rewards are vast.
3) Launch the event: “Build a Bentley Challenge.” Students from the leading engineering programs across the U.S. will compete to design a new Bentley to current luxury, safety and design expectations in two weeks. Bentley Motors would fly five teams of ten students from Stevens College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Georgia Institute of Technology and UC Berkeley (US News, 2011). For two weeks, these teams would learn how Bentley engineers design and build the models. Then, the two-week contest would begin to build the next great Bentley model. Winners would receive $200,000 in funding for their engineering program. All expenses would be paid for the participants. By recording the contest and offering video logs online to the public, Bentley would receive great publicity and the videos would circulate quickly. Though this initiative wouldn’t come cheap, Bentley would receive attention from its primary and secondary audiences through digital interaction and publicity. The span of the event would be February 1st to March 1st 2012.
**What Does Bentley’s Social Media Need To Drive Engagement?**
“Top Engineering Schools In The U.S.” US News. 2011. Web. 5 Dec. 2011. <http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-engineering-schools/eng-rankings>.
-Objective one: To increase interaction with primary and secondary audiences by 20% within the mobile communication arena by January 2012, at a cost of $10,000.
1) Build a mobile application which features a beautiful UI interface and interactive features. Bentley will outsource the app development to VentureFizz, a database of Boston area mobile app developers who will bid on the project. As more of Bentley’s target consumers spend hours each day on their smartphones, Bentley can capitalize on this trend by developing a sleek, free application that allows users to build their dream Bentley model and share it with friends or learn about Bentley’s heritage from brief, in-app videos (Mashable, 2011). The app will be easy to use, so the secondary audience can enjoy it, while offering cutting-edge graphics and video to appeal to the primary audience. Developed to operate on iPhone and Android platforms, this application will reach the majority of smart phone users. To spread the news about the app, Bentley PR will speak with Boston tech. publications like Boston Innovation to reach the primary audience initially.
2) At the March 2012 Geneva International Auto show, place QR code platforms around the show that, when scanned with a smart phone, offer an exclusive bit of information about the new model that will be revealed that day. This tactic is a good way to generate buzz about the new model reveal and encourage smart phone interaction (Korhan, 2011). Exclusive information is a great way to reach the target audience and the new communication QR tactic shows Bentley has a contemporary approach (Korhan, 2011). Bentley will not announce the QR code tactic at the event, to raise the sense of exclusivity. The only other way people could find out about the information is to check into the Bentley booth on Foursquare, which will have a hint placed by Bentley PR about where to find the QR code stations. To develop the QR code, Bentley will recruit contentdeveloper for a customized interface.
3) For Bentley dealerships, hire MacroSolve to create a mobile phone tool that functions as remote vehicle lock, engine ignition and alarm trigger. Surprisingly, this is a very inexpensive tool to develop, though the technology is very innovative (Maxwell, 2011). To increase the digital communication goal with the secondary audience, any Bentley consumers who come into the dealership to receive service on their vehicle or purchase a new Bentley can get this tool on their mobile device for free. Unlike the mobile application discussed above, this tool is kept within the Bentley owner pool and is a great way for current owners to be personally shown (by dealership staff) how innovative and accessible Bentley has become. Within the tool, there will be a quick link to interactive customer service. Any questions owners have could be answered without ever having to dial a number or drive to the nearest dealership. Obviously, this tactic doesn’t extend brand presence beyond current owners, but it is a great way for consumers to show off Bentley tech. and for brand interaction through mobile devices. Auto industry publications would pick up on this tool and generate buzz online as well.
**Are there some better tactics for this objective that I’ve missed?**
11, July. “More U.S. Adults Own a Smartphone Than Have a Degree.” Mashable. 11 July 2011. Web. 04 Dec. 2011. <http://mashable.com/2011/07/11/one-third-of-us-adults-owns-a-smartphone/>.
Maxwell, Aaron. “Is Developing a Mobile App Worth the Cost?” Mashable. 24 Feb. 2011. Web. 04 Dec. 2011. <http://mashable.com/2011/02/24/mobile-app-dev-cost/>.
Korhan, Jeff. “How QR Codes Can Grow Your Business | Social Media Examiner.” Social Media Examiner: Social Media Marketing How To, Research, Case Studies, News and More! 7 Feb. 2011. Web. 04 Dec. 2011. <http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-qr-codes-can-grow-your-business/>.
1) To increase interaction with primary and secondary audiences by 20% within the mobile communication arena by March 2012, at a cost of $10,000. Bentley understands smart phone use and general mobile activity is surging year after year, so the automaker must forage into the mobile environment to dominate luxury auto brand presence. The most effective way to evaluate the success of this objective is to track web site traffic now and immediately after the March 2012 deadline. Results should reveal a 20% increase in mobile-driven site traffic. With more than a third of U.S. adults using smartphones, it is critical that Bentley capitalize in mobile communication soon (Mashable, 2010).
2) To increase Bentley vehicle video sharing and feedback by 120% by June 2012 at a cost of $400,000. Besides show room and auto show visits, Bentley has a difficult time engaging with its target audience. It has done well with getting Facebook “like’s” but needs to boost its interaction (Facebook, 2011). In addition, it hardly uses its Twitter account, and when it does, the tweets are not interesting (Twitter, 2011). By optimizing social media engagement, the automaker can cheaply and effectively link itself to consumers’ online engagement practices. By tracking mentions, comments and Bentley-branded video online, the automaker can see before and after figures that should reflect the objective’s success by June 2012.
3) To heighten brand visibility from televised content by 80% by December 2012, at a cost of $500,000. Most of the U.S. population rarely see a Bentley on the streets, but are almost as unlikely to see a Bentley in an advertisement. The automaker relies on word of mouth and exclusivity to sell vehicles (Gibson, 2011). This has been a successful business model for the brand, though it is time to adapt to the changing communication landscape, scrap the print ads and assert the brand in more communication channels. Instead of relying on ads, Bentley should look into hybrid messaging like product placement or develop and inspire its own video content. For this objective, it would be best to track which and how many online destinations generate Bentley’s brand mentions now and after the December 2012 date. With more people watching TV shows online from sources like Hulu, there is an opportunity to assert the Bentley brand on televised programming (Newsline, 2011). Then Bentley should encourage online interactivity like chat forums and social networks.
**What would you suggest for Bentley’s Objectives and Evaluations?**
11, July. “More U.S. Adults Own a Smartphone Than Have a Degree.” Mashable. 11 July 2011. Web. 04 Dec. 2011. <http://mashable.com/2011/07/11/one-third-of-us-adults-owns-a-smartphone/>.
Gibson, Ken. “La-la Land (Rover).” The Sun | The Best for News, Sport, Showbiz, Celebrities | The Sun. 18 Nov. 2011. Web. 04 Dec. 2011.
“Online Video – TV but Smaller?” Newsline. 8 June 2011. Web. 04 Dec. 2011. <http://mediatel.co.uk/newsline/2011/06/08/online-video-tv-but-smaller/>.
The goal of this plan is to become the leading luxury automotive brand presence through digital communication and engagement with Bentley’s target audiences.
Primary audience: Cultured, aspirational young adults. Men and women, ages 18-28, who appreciate digital communication, luxurious lifestyles, brand presence and technology innovation. These young adults would like to own a Bentley vehicle one day and enjoy the status that accompanies a car of that caliber. On the cusp of the digital revolution, these young professionals can relate to Bentley’s goal of transitioning its marketing and PR efforts to the online and mobile landscape.
Secondary audience: Upper-class individuals between the ages of 40 and 65. These customers expect to spend over 150 thousand dollars on a vehicle with modern conveniences, luxury, refinement and presence. Most are looking for a large, powerful luxury coupe or sedan. They want to make a statement of elegance with their vehicle from a class leading brand. They have money to spare and do not fret over large purchases. These consumers refuse to drive a chintzy car. These buyers attended undergraduate and graduate school, and reside in wealthy, prominent social circles. They are not bargain hunters, but understand value for money. They are married with children who are in college or graduated to wall-street positions already. The primary audience consumes most of their media from the internet and television.
**Do you think Bentley would be successful targeting these audiences and using this goal?**
This will be a multi-part post detailing steps Bentley Motors North America should consider to engage with stakeholders in the modern communications environment. Enjoy!
Bentley Motors, Inc. operates out of its North American headquarters of 3 Copley Place, Suite 3701, Boston, MA 02116. As one of the most recognizable luxury automakers, Bentley produces elegant, hand-built, powerful vehicles to the one percent of consumers who can afford them. With the majority of Bentley’s sales coming from the US, this contemporary headquarters of 25 employees sits in the heart of wealthy downtown Boston (Auto Channel, 2007). Since it was first established by O.W. Bentley in Crewe, England during 1919, Bentley Motors grew from its racing heritage into a major auto brand and was absorbed by Volkswagen AG in 1998 (Bentley website, 2011). Vehicle sales in 2010 were just shy of 5,000 cars (Gulfnews.com, 2011).
As a young auto-racing pioneer, O.W. Bentley sought to develop a brand that proved its worth on the track. Over the years, Bentley racing became a separate aspect of the brand, while consumer vehicles continued to develop as hand-crafted, refined machines. The 20th century molded heavier, more powerful and more luxurious Bentley models. Finally, by the turn of the 20th century at the hands of its new Volkswagen parent company, Bentley became a global icon of luxury and status (Bentley website, 2011).
The auto industry began struggling in 2008 during the recession and though Bentley’s consumers were wealthy, the luxury automaker was not exempt from the economic woes. This meant Bentley Motors sold 50% fewer vehicles in 2009 than they did in 2007 (4wheelsnews.com, 2011). Since before the recession, emerging markets have pulled Bentley out of lack-luster sales periods. China and the Middle East have lunged at the massive vehicle status symbols in the 21st century (4wheelsnews.com, 2011). Though Bentley has struggled to recover since the recession, the company has been financially supported by Volkswagen’s massive market presence (VW AG owns Audi, a percentage of Porsche, Bentley, and Lamborghini).
The rich and famous gravitate to Bentley vehicles, with the media in pursuit (Gibson, 2011). Bentley’s media center of its website archives press releases and “Bentley Magazine” issues. Newspapers, auto industry magazines and websites serve as the majority of Bentley’s media coverage. In the U.K., Bentley vehicles are featured in stories within “Evo” magazine and “Top Gear” magazine consistently. In the U.S., “Motor Trend”, “Car and Driver” and “Autoblog.com” feature Bentley cars several times each year. International auto shows like the Los Angeles International Auto Show bring quality coverage for Bentley, especially when the automaker has a new model revealed, like the recent 2012 Continental GTC (LA Times, 2011).
With its cheapest model starting at $190,000, Bentley’s competition is very light. Vehicles in this price range are the definition of specialty goods. Jaguar/Land Rover Cars, Daimler AG (Mercedes-Benz) and Rolls-Royce Cars are the only competitors who mimic Bentley’s luxury, status and performance (Yahoo! Finance, 2009). Jaguar and Mercedes have a range of models with much lower starting prices, so those in the market for a Bentley will usually consider Rolls-Royce the immediate alternative. Considering Bentley and Rolls-Royce were once under the same ownership, the distinctions between the two brands are minimal (VW Group, 2011).
Bentley Motors has an iconic brand that is recognized across the globe, though this PR plan will address the need for Bentley to find and measure its digital and online audience, targeting the young adults who will be the next generation of owners. With the majority of Bentley’s resources going to traditional communication, the automaker has been behind in the industry and global transition to digital communication. Bentley needs to gain market capitalization on mobile devices and internet sites that generation Y use frequently. With increased activity on the digital front, Bentley Motors will prompt engagement and interactivity between its brand and publics. By doing so, the auto maker can educate its young adult audience about its brand heritage, modern vehicle technology and refinement. At the same time, it can improve its customer experience for current owners.
**Now before I go further, what do you think Bentley needs to be a successful automaker in the future?
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