Nine impactful creative campaigns for the automotive sector

By Bethany Watson 13 March 2023 7 minute read

Wondering how to implement a creative content and digital PR strategy for your automotive brand?

To champion some brilliant work across the automotive and SEO industry that came during another challenging year, the UpShift team has collated nine creative campaigns in the automotive sector that left a lasting impression on us – plus some favourites from our own work.

The below campaigns nailed either relevancy, a cut-throat methodology, or were simply executed beautifully – so check them out below:

1) Using official patents, Vanarama reveals what the Apple Car could look like

Results: 365 links from trusted automotive and tech sources such as 9to4mac, Digital Trends, Motor1, Tom’s Guide, Maxim, Mashable, Pocket-Lint, and Topspeed.

Apple Car

The campaign: Apple’s biggest project yet has been worked on for the best part of a decade and from announcement to production, the tech giant usually teases very little information. That’s why for our van and car leasing client Vanarama, we created our own virtual product reveal for the Apple Car, as if it was announced by Apple itself. After trawling the tech giant’s official patents, we brought them to life through an online platform in which users could get a real taste of what the car would look like inside and out. This visual, interactive campaign gives users a real experience of what the Apple Car could look and feel like,

Why it worked: The tech company’s choice to keep progress on the car under wraps gave us the perfect opportunity to give journalists and tech fans what they were craving: a look into what could come in the future. The use of Apple’s real patents gave this campaign sheer mass appeal way beyond the intended target audience and is consistently credited as a key source when the car is discussed.

2) The cities where EV charging causes the most stress

Results: 113 pieces of linking coverage in US regional and tech publications, including Digg.

The campaign: The Clunker Junker campaign analysed EV charging-related tweets and used an academic stress detection tool to identify the percentage of tweets in each state that showed the highest signs of charging anxiety.

The campaign also includes case studies using real tweets to highlight the concerns of EV drivers. It’s a great example of getting involved in the conversation of switching to electric by 2030.

Why it worked: This campaign highlights the prevalent topic of ‘charging anxiety’ that has the potential to prevent drivers from making the switch to electric. The term refers to a state of uncertainty around being able to access a charging point at any given time.

Charging anxiety is a huge barrier that the automotive industry is working to overcome and The Clunker Junker’s campaign further highlights the need for this to be addressed, especially as we approach the 2030 deadline of halting sales of fuel cars.

3) Study highlights the breathtaking link between EV uptake and clean air

Results: 10 pieces of linking coverage in tech and EV publications, including Tech Digest.

Map

The campaign: This study, conducted for our car and van leasing client Vanarama, looks at how air quality has improved in cities across Europe and compares this with their uptake of electric vehicles. The index details the best (spoiler, it’s Norway) and worst cities for air quality and EV uptake across Europe.

Why it worked: This is one of our favourite recent studies to demonstrate the benefits of electric vehicle uptake and can easily be updated year after year with updated figures of EV uptake and air quality.

The study makes a tangible connection for journalists and their readers between whether the widespread adoption of electric cars is going to do as is intended and make a difference in improving air quality across the world.

4) Artist renders pictures of abandoned supercars in an EV future

Results: These renders weren’t produced for link-building purposes but are still a great example of using creative content to secure incredibly topical coverage on The Drive, Top Gear, Car Buzz, Car Scoops, Supercar Blondie, and TopSpeed.

The campaign: As an amazing example of showing off what your designers can do, Dizzy Viper created ‘Last Of Us’ inspired renders showing iconic supercars as if they were abandoned.

Fabian, the artist, took the concept of a ‘barn find’ (a classic car, aircraft, or motorcycle that has been rediscovered after being stored, often found in derelict condition) and applied it to supercar models from Bugatti, Pagani, Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Rolls-Royce.

Why it worked: As experts in automotive creative content, we know that a tried and tested campaign formula that works well with journalists is ‘what would X look like if Y’. The artist, in this instance, has predicted the future of exotic supercars with internal combustion engines, hinting that they may be left to rot thanks to the introduction of faster, electric supercars such as the Rimac Nevera. You can see this formula applied to our own client Peter Vardy’s latest campaign revealing ‘Cars Redesigned to Combat Climate Change’.

The future of ICE vehicles is largely unknown and creating visuals of a potential future scenario makes it much more tangible for journalists and their readers to understand. I’d have loved to see this backed up with some data on predictions of falling ICE supercar sales as we approach 2030.

5) You can now wear a real ‘time machine’ made out of a DeLorean 

Results: 18 product links from Motor1, Motor Sport magazine, and jewellery industry publications.

DMC Watch

The campaign: REC watches have woven subtle design references of Back to the Future’s DeLorean into a spotlight watch. The limited edition watch is available to order for £1,745.00 and claims to be a ‘time machine’ to the 80s.

Why it worked: By combining a cult classic movie car with a solid fan base and a real-time piece, it’s no wonder this campaign gained some traction. This campaign is a sound example of how to make Product PR work for even the most niche of industries. The Delorean is still a solid talking point among motoring journalists and their readers even now, 37 years after ‘Back to the Future’s release.

6) Artificial Intelligence designs cars in the style of famous movie directors

Results: 22 links, including The Daily Mail.

The campaign: National Scrap Car used AI image generation tool DALL-E 2 to estimate what cars would look like if they were designed by 15 famous movie directors including Tim Burton, Wes Anderson, and Steven Spielberg.

Why it worked: We’re big fans of creating visual campaigns for the automotive industry and find they work particularly well because, if done correctly, the articles covering the campaigns are an easy write-up for journalists. This campaign combines two hugely trending topics in automotive: movie cars and vehicle renders.

7) The iconic Cozy Coupe gets an EV makeover

Results: Coverage in Green Car Guide, UK nationals and GoodTo.

Child in a child's toy car

The campaign: Think your first car was a Corsa? Wrong! Many Brits grew up with the iconic red and yellow Cozy Coupe. For this campaign, ElextriX partnered with original Cozy Coupe manufacturer Little Tikes to give the iconic toy an electric vehicle makeover.

Why it worked: Not only does the campaign have a creative element to it, it also carries results from a survey of children in which it asks them how they would save the planet, if it was up to them. This campaign works so well because it demonstrates a creative way to teach the next generation about the importance of climate change, making it incredibly popular among journalists.

8) Scrap your toy cars this Christmas to help vulnerable children

Results: Coverage in Motoring Research and UK regional press.

The campaign: Car scrapping company Scrap Car Comparison developed a service offering users the chance to scrap old toy cars. The company partnered with charity initiative The Toy Project which re-gifts toys to disadvantaged families at Christmas.

Why it worked: This campaign immediately evokes an emotional response from a journalist and their readers, especially during a cost of living crisis that is so heavily impacting the news cycle. This simple methodology is a fantastic example of using a client’s service to add relevancy to a campaign. In this instance, Scrap Car are using their service to hypothetically ‘scrap’ unwanted toy cars over the festive period.

9) Introducing the World’s First EV Powered Hotel

Results: 75 backlinks in Automotive World, Just Auto, Teslarati, Autoevolution, and others.

Car Hotel

The campaign: Powered by bidirectional charging, Hyundai has created an EV-powered hotel boasting a bar and restaurant, cinema, and guest suite – all powered by their electric vehicles.

In addition to the stunning graphics that were widely shared in the coverage this campaign received, journalists or customers could book a stay in the EV-powered hotel which was open for a limited time only.

Why it worked: One of the biggest misconceptions of electric vehicles is that they’re not very powerful and they can’t do a lot of what an internal combustion engine vehicle can. Hyundai’s EV hotel blows all of those misconceptions out of the water by demonstrating the power of their product, the IONIQ 5.  Hyundai uses bidirectional charging to show just what electric vehicles can do that ICE vehicles can’t.

This campaign is fantastic for both product PR and link building – they are subtly advertising how great their product is in a way that doesn’t seem overly advertorial. We’re impressed!

If you are looking to supercharge your creative content and digital PR strategy, get in touch at enquiries@upshift.co.uk or fill out the form on our homepage.