MICHELIN'S CAR CONNECTIONS - CONTENT & ENGAGEMENT PLATFORM
Michelin tyres are a leading tyre brand across the globe, however in the ‘performance’ category the brand has low awareness among the consumers. Furthermore, the consumers that purchase ‘performance’ tyres are a niche
group, who are tough to please and don’t use the usual channels of communication to consume media. We knew that taking a traditional media approach to this audience wouldn’t yield the best response. Therefore,
instead of focussing on the active stage of the purchase consideration, we identified an opportunity to drive ‘alwayson’ passive stage consideration, by improving the association of the Michelin brand around this audience’s
key ‘passion’ points.
Our research showed those who care about tyre performance in particular are a specific, niche audience called ‘Car Passionates’. For this audience, passion is the most valued attribute in themselves, and in others. It’s an expression of their love for cars, and a common ground for bonding, and building a genuine relationship with complete strangers, irrespective of their social, financial, and cultural background. This audience is also known for its limited engagement online – they’re usually active on exclusive forums and online communities, select automotive publications, and very rarely with brands. Usual forms of advertising and content rarely shift brand preference within this audience as they are highly knowledgeable and informed about the technical details of cars and tyres – what they value and respect is a genuine, and shared passion for cars.
Our strategy was to develop a unique digital destination powered by content directly relevant to the passion points of the ‘Car Passionates’ audience to position Michelin as a brand that is in touch with the key passions and interests of this audience. We created content that not only drove engagement with the brand, but also improved the perception of the Michelin brand in the eyes of this picky customer by aligning with their interests. Crucial to the implementation of this campaign strategy was a single media partner who could instantly, and naturally provide us access to our niche audience across the multiple markets in Europe, North America, and Asia. MSN Autos is an authority in the auto publishing category, and has millions of monthly readers across the globe, a portion of which are our ‘Car Passionates’ segment. This made MSN/AOL a natural fit for our audience, brand, and content. The strategic partnership with MSN/AOL provided Michelin with access to audience, editorial content, and video production, and distribution through a single partner.
We also focussed on a creative strategy to demonstrate a ‘genuine passion’ for cars, and the ‘connections’ it can spark. We developed a campaign strategy focusing on creating a Michelin branded content hub supported with hero
video content featuring ‘Car Passionates’ celebrities and Michelin sponsorship events, as well as high quality always on editorial content. The hero video content would be supported by a significant burst of media spend driving
awareness for the Michelin brand, the event sponsorship, and the content hub, while the always-on editorial content drove deeper engagement with the audience.
Our creative strategy focused on showing ‘genuine passions’ and ‘genuine connections’ through our hero videos, and always-on editorials.
For our hero videos, Michelin sponsored LeMans, and MotoGP served as a backdrop to our story, and the protagonists were carefully selected celebrities who matched the ‘Car Passionates’ profile and were globally recognisable. We worked with Michelin, and AOL to source influential talent like Keanu Reeves/ Gard Hollinger of Arch Motorcycles, and Eric Bana at LeMans, and MotoGP Australia respectively to capture on film not only their personal passion for cars, but also how this passion forged a genuine connection with other car passionates who work behind-the-scenes to make motoring events a reality for fans across the world.
The partnership with AOL also gave us access to the editorial expertise at MSN Autos to craft an always-on editorial calendar tailored to the passions, and niche interest areas within the automobile category, thus creating content
that is unique and unavailable in other publications. This further helped create a unique positioning for Michelin’s branded hub and content.
We produced both the hero video, and editorial content from a single source of experts at MSN Autos/ AOL, and hosted it on the Michelin branded ‘Car Connections’ hub which was part of the MSN Autos homepage. This
ensured that our content was organically and continually being discovered by our audience in the right place. The distribution strategy for hero, and editorial content leveraged all paid, owned, and earned channels within the MSN/
AOL, and Michelin networks.
In addition, we continually reviewed both hub, and paid media data to optimize our content creation, and targeting process. This helped us adapt the content plans to dial-up better performing content such as image galleries, and
articles that explored legacies around specific car brands, as well as drive more engagement by redistributing media budgets towards better performing groups within our audience sets.
The MSN/ AOL partnership lend authenticity to our tone of voice and content by being seen as an extension to the environment where our ‘Car Passionate’ audiences frequently visit to get their automobiles related content.
We created in total over 200 pieces of unique editorial content, published over the course of six months, localised for multiple markets. Content was localised not only by language by also cultural sensitivities, and preferences in
The partnership with MSN/AOL not only helped Michelin build a valuable brand asset, but it also brought with it efficiencies, and expertise in areas of content creation, and distribution.
The campaign drove a total 21million video views across AOL, and social media channels, and 1.1 million unique visitors to the Car Connections hubs, and 8.1 million page views across all seven markets. For an audience that is
hard to find, and engage, the dwell times for a single visit averaged at 59 secs. Over 90% of the visits to the page drove 1+ page views. In total visitors to the hub spent over 7000 hours interacting and engaging with our content,
and generated thousands of shares on social media. On article specifically on the subject of the obsession with Beetle cars had average dwell times of over 3.5mins, and drove social shares with comments such as ‘I think I’ve
found my support group’, ‘The story of a true enthusiast’ etc.
This was a first of its kind campaign for Michelin, with an overwhelming result where the content had created a genuine connection, and engaged with its intended audience. Michelin received even more validation of the
success of this campaign, in the form of comments, and shares from their ‘car passionates’ audience, and other auto publications on social media