Traditional automotive commercials used to put a focus on product performances and engine statistics, but INFINITI global marketing head, Melissa Bell(pictured), tells Marketing it's not the case anymore.
"Advertising in the field used to be product-focused, but when we look at the progressive change, automotive consumers are very much looking to understand the brand they are buying into," said Bell in the exclusive interview.
"Buying a premium vehicle is a very important purchase for customers, 80% of them will research online before making decisions. And they are not looking for the traditional cues or status, the kind of what we called the old luxury - they are searching for brand purposes and meaning."
They are not looking for the traditional cues or status, the kind of what we called the old luxury - they are searching for brand purposes and meaning.
Bell leads INFINITI's global marketing and is responsible for a wide range of strategic and operational activities in the company. Prior to joining INFINITI in 2014, Melissa held a number of senior roles with Volkswagen Group China, including regional marketing director ASEAN, marketing director Volkswagen Group China and marketing director Shanghai Volkswagen.
Addressing that traditional luxury is about exclusivity, Bell said she now advocates another distinctive philosophy, "luxury is better shared", to associate the brand with experiences.
"We are a relatively new and growing automotive brand," she admitted, saying the brand need a special approach to differentiate from other luxury rivals.
And for that, Bell believes the automotive brand is staying ahead of the curve in recognising consumers' changing habits.
A "localised", global branding campaign
The brand has recently launched its first-ever global branding campaign, "Beyond Your Numbers", to put a focus on breaking boundaries, but it's not all about their products.
The campaign taps different ambassadors, for example, basketball icon Stephen Curry, cancer survivor Mike Thompson and ballerina Alessandra Ferri, to feature their stories of "driving beyond measure" in life.
The campaign runs on digital and social channels in different formats, from a 90-second advert to an eight-minute film, to inspire potential consumers through the ambassadors' encouraging stories. The campaign may be localised across markets as it may appoint different ambassadors in different regions.
The videos will also be launched on TV and in cinema "in some markets", but Bell said it's primarily for digital and social platforms, for "the television model just no longer works the same way it did".
The television model just no longer works the same way it did.
"It [digital] is a new space where we need to build relationships with the consumers. It is a field that is highly dramatic and moving fast, and we as well need to drive fast," she said.
"This campaign will associate the faces with our brand DNA, which is to be bold and have no boundaries," said Bell. "In some markets, we collaborate with local partners to draw relevancy. It's incredibly important as the biggest effort is to build our image on the space."
Unwilling to share how much it has invested in the campaign, Bell asked us to expect more branding initiatives from the brand.
"They are getting more conscious about how human the automotive brand is, which means we have to be greatly engaging and authentic. I believe this is the right way to head."