So the other day I was diving into luxury cars in the Alchemy database and a few anecdotal but interesting things came up. When looking at the themes for Mercedes-Benz, I saw a few drug related themes. Mainly, they were in conjunction with Mercedes-Benz autos being driven by drug kingpins. Product companies can’t always choose who buys their products and who doesn’t. This is sort of like collateral damage – the image of the product is impacted by some people who buy the product. Think Ryder Truck for an extreme example. However, not all of these sorts of collateral damage events are so high profile as the Oklahoma City bombing. Some are more subtle and keeping an ear to the ground is critical to a) spot these trends and b) conduct counter messaging to mitigate the collateral damage.
That being said, such events do not always have to be negatives, or better yet, can be spun into a positive. For instance, I also looked at Audi. We saw some similar crime oriented themes bubble to the surface – mainly that it appears that Audi is the chosen getaway car used in some recent bank heists. Unlike the Mercedes-Benz example, this doesn’t have to be a negative. The fact that bank robbers chose the Audi as a getaway car speaks volumes about its high performance and premium sports car handling. This could easily be spun into a edgy web video…
<cue the music, downtown scene of Zurich, an Audi rallying through cobblestone streets and crowded city avenues driven by an attractive couple clad in all black high tech bank robber gear>
“Hi, I’m Nigel and I rob banks for a living. When I’m knocking over the Bank of Zurich, I only trust Audi as my getaway car. Its superior acceleration really keeps me one step ahead of the authorities. Its tight, responsive handling allows me to zip through traffic and the all wheel drive and electronic traction control means that I leave the Fiat driving police eating my cobblestones. So next time you are 30 minutes away from your meeting, but only have 15 minutes to get there, you better have an Audi”
<end with video of an attractive couple in business suits complete with a laptop and bound copies of a PowerPoint presentation, rallying through the LA traffic> “Audi – preferred by bank robbers and on-time executives everywhere…”
Now, aside from demonstrating that I have no future in writing commercials, you can see where I am going. Spin the unfortunate and unintended use of your product to highlight not only its features but also mitigate the stigma of the unintended use. As a car manufacturer, you can’t help the fact that your car is being use in this fashion – so you should simply try to make lemonade out of lemons.
Call it collateral product placement… However, unless you have your ear to the ground by using a platform like Maroon Alchemy (shameless plug), you’ll miss this opportunity. As an aside, as an Audi driver, I happen to agree with Nigel.