On Saturday night Subaru Canada took a chance and put a marketing stunt in the middle of a staple of the Toronto art scene at Scotiabank Nuit Blanche.
Putting together a marketing display in the middle of a non-commercial event is always risky. There’s a chance that the public will reject it as shilling instead of seeing it as part of the overall event. And while Subaru didn’t totally escape this (@AndreaBtyne tweeted: #subaruart is #advertising but #nicetry. #NuitBlanchetoronto) they did put together an interesting and colourful artistic exhibit that made people stop and appreciate the art.
The car maker had artist Gene Pendon paint a XV Crosstrek under a branded tent in the middle of King St., while also showing off unpainted models in bright colours. What made this stunt work was the talent of Pendon. Had his design been boring or included an oversized Subaru logo I think that people would have looked at it with clear disdain and walked on by.
However, I think Subaru dropped the ball when it came to promoting their exhibit and the event in general. A look at their Facebook and Twitter feeds shows only 1 mention of the exhibit per stream on Friday. That’s it. No mention was made on the day of the event. No mentions or interactions took place during the event or after (as of Tuesday morning). As a social media marketer I will tell you this, to me this is a failure when it comes to full marketing potential. In my opinion, there should have been someone at Nuit Blanche tweeting about the progress of the paint job. There should have been photos posted throughout the night that could also have ended up in photo album on Facebook Monday morning. And having that chatter taking place also would have increased the conversation and exposure of the project. Realtime engagement should not be underrated.
As it stands, I did a Monday afternoon search for the #subaruart hashtag that the public was encouraged to use and found 20 total tweets with 16 of those tweets included photos or links to photos. I found 16 photos on Instagram, including the 10 in the header image of this post. And I found no (0) mentions of the #subaruart hashtag on Facebook, other than Blade’s photo of the exhibit.
Overall I see the Subaru exhibit at Nuit Blanche as a half success.
Yes, the art fit the overall feel of the event. No, there wasn’t a lot of negative feedback surrounding their effort. But at the same time there wasn’t a lot of talk of #subaruart at all, even by the brand itself. This wasn’t an experience meant to sell cars on the spot or offer test drives, but (in my eyes) an exhibit meant to create conversation, and there wasn’t enough of it to call #subaruart at Nuit Blanche a full-on success.
I hope that their takeaway is that they had the right idea and just missed 1 piece of the execution. Now we wait to see what they come up with for Nuit Blanche 2014.