Chevrolet was in full force at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) interactive – a conference that takes place every spring in Austin, Texas. Besides showing off the Camaro, Volt, and Cruze to over 185,000 attendees, the bow tie brand took a very unique and innovative approach to learn the best practices of emerging social media. To do just that, Chevy launched a pilot test of three mobile applications that allow it to connect to consumers. According to Jim Campbell, General Manager of the Chevrolet brand:
Social media is a powerful tool in a digital world where people can get news instantly on their smart phone, watch television shows on streaming video, and communicate with friends on social-networking sites. For Chevrolet, South by Southwest provides an invaluable opportunity to learn how best to communicate with customers in by leveraging these technologies.
The three apps up for review consist of location-based social networking, quick response, and augmented reality. Click past the break to read all about them and for the coveted GM Authority Take!
Location-Based Social Networking
Chevrolet has partnered with Gowalla, which describes itself as “The easiest way to share places you go with friends.” Gowalla has apps for all the major smartphone platforms (Apple, Android, BlackBerry, Palm) and lets users “check in,” a feature that enables friends and followers to know there they are at a given moment.
At SXSW, Chevy used this technology to send messages to Gowalla users in the locations that it could be of service. For example, those who “check in” at Austin Airport received a message that reads: “Welcome and Congratulations: Chevy is here for SXSW, and we want to offer you a free ride in a new Equinox if you’re going downtown. Just show this message to the person holding the Chevy @ SXSW sign in baggage claim, and leave the rest to us.” Pretty cool, huh? But it doesn’t end there.
Quick Response (QR)
Chevy used QR codes to introduce SXSW attendees to key features of the Camaro, Volt, and Cruze. When pictured using a camera phone, the QR codes will launch a dedicated micro-site that highlights the features of the aforementioned vehicles. For example, a QR code on the hood of a Chevy Cruze will launch a micro-site about the new compact’s 1.4-liter Ecotec turbocharged engine that is expected to deliver a class-leading 40 mpg.
Augmented Reality – Chevy iReveal App
The bow tie brand is one of the first mainstream automakers to make use of augmented reality. Using the Chevy iReveal app, users are able to unlock 3-dimensional models of Chevrolet vehicles, find out specific information about a particular model, and even insert a virtual image of a Chevy car over an actual streetscape viewed through a smart phone camera lens.
The Chevy iReveal App made its debut at SXSW and will be rolling out to other select cities in the near future, meaning that you can download the app, but it may not actually do much at this point in time.
Chris Barger, General Motors Director of Global Communications and Technology had the following to say about all these high-tech communications efforts:
The potential of these technologies is incredible. Imagine using Quick Response Codes to download the price and options for a vehicle on a dealer lot right to your cell phone. Or, imagine using augmented reality to virtually preview different colors of the Camaro in your own driveway. We are just scratching the surface of what’s possible with mobile technologies and social media applications.
The GM Authority Take
This is the good stuff. As traditional advertising and communication channels prove ineffective with Gen X and Ys, it’s great to see Chevrolet use creative high-tech efforts that incorporate new media – good stuff indeed.