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Experiential strategy propels next-gen brand ambassadors

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A 3-week, multidimensional marketing experience to educate a strategically selected audience about actions that can improve sustainability, including a shift to alt-fuel transportation, while also competing for a significant sustainability prize.

Challenge

Hyundai Motor America is leading the way in building alternative-fuel vehicles, including the first dedicated hydrogen-powered SUV, the Nexo.

Yet even as the average consumer becomes more aware of environmental impacts and makes more sustainable choices, chances are they don’t yet know much about alt-fuel transportation. And because alt-fuel transportation is relatively new, alt-fuel vehicles carry high price tags and are, at times, limited to certain buying areas. The Nexo, for example, is currently only sold in California, where hydrogen stations are available.

Encouraging someone to change a longstanding habit — like their method of transportation — is a significant ask. It requires not only informing consumers, but also giving them the power to be decision-makers and stakeholders, invested not only in their personal choices but also how those choices influence the collective outcome.

Solution

Augeo partnered with Hyundai Motor America’s agency of record, Innocean Worldwide, to design, implement and measure a multimedia marketing experience guided by the following goals:

  • Offer a firsthand look at the future of electrified and fuel cell mobility
  • Explore the importance of sustainable energy
  • Better prepare participants to be leaders in areas of climate change and environmental sustainability
  • Among the first and most critical steps of the planning process: identify a target audience. Augeo strategically opted to work with college students. Although they may not yet fit the common alt-fuel vehicle customer profile, this age group is eager to make positive changes and advocate for causes in which they believe. By engaging them in this transformative time in their lives, Hyundai has a more significant opportunity to transition participants to action-oriented brand ambassadors and, later, customers.

Once the goals and audience had been identified, Augeo faced a formidable challenge: how to engage, excite and inform this connected, outspoken population that isn’t interested in any sort of sales pitch.

Drawing on Augeo’s extensive history of producing immersive, impactful experiences, the company embraced the power of experiential strategy to create Drive the Future: A Hyundai Experience. Augeo’s proven track record of successfully executing all facets of the event planning process — from branding and communications to site design and logistics — ensured that Augeo’s team was equipped with the skills to not only plan and launch three simultaneous live activations in different parts of California, but also oversee and implement a three-week sustainability challenge that resulted in a $100,000 sustainability grant from Hyundai for the winning university.

Planning and hosting week-long activations at three college campuses (Pepperdine University, Loyola Marymount University and Santa Clara University) required an immense amount of collaboration, led by Augeo. The team quickly built relationships with a number of campus and related stakeholders, including sustainability offices, campus departments and teams, athletics offices and campus leadership, to share the vision of the sustainability-focused programming and give campuses a chance to amplify and include their own existing sustainability initiatives and accomplishments. Involving key campus groups and individuals also ensured an opportunity for the activation week programming to reflect the particular campus, its population and its specific sustainability challenges and successes, which further resonated with the students and more effectively demonstrated the impact of individual and collective action. Drive the Future: A Hyundai Experience proved to be a multidimensional marketing experience in every sense of the term. Ahead of the live activation weeks, Augeo led extensive planning efforts to design each campus’s week-long schedule and build the related events. During the live activation week, each campus hosted a variety of activities that included Hyundai Ride and Drives with alt-fuel vehicles, alt-fuel vehicle-powered shuttle service, and activities like collaborative sculpture building with a renowned national artist, sustainable tailgates, giveaways and succulent planting parties. Each event connected to the larger theme of sustainability, including educating students about how they can support sustainability efforts on campus and what Hyundai is doing to make a better, healthier planet for all.

Augeo also engaged with a non-profit technology platform partner to introduce another experiential element: a three-week Fill It Forward Challenge. Powered by the Cupanion app, the three participating universities received branded, reusable water bottles and scannable tags. The bottles were distributed around the time that the contest began and, each time participants refilled their bottles, they used the app to scan their tags. After a close contest, Santa Clara University secured the win and took home a $100,000 sustainability grant from Hyundai. Although the Fill It Forward Challenge encouraged friendly competition between the three universities, participants also collectively achieved some significant sustainability benchmarks, including:

  • 790+ lbs of plastic saved
  • 3,950+ lbs of waste saved
  • 75,069 kWH of power saved
  • 57,948 lbs of emissions saved

Those measurable achievements exemplified and complemented Hyundai’s existing sustainability message: “Everyone deserves better.”

Results

How do you determine the effectiveness of a multidimensional marketing experience with so many variables? Augeo and Innocean collaborated on identifying a variety of success metrics, including participation in the Hyundai Ride & Drives to experience Hyundai’s alt-fuel vehicles firsthand. The team surpassed the initial goal of 2,000 shuttle rides and drives and achieved 2,630 rides and drives throughout the activation week.

Marketing the Fill It Forward Challenge and the larger Drive the Future experience created additional opportunities to measure success. Social media integration became a critical marketing component to better fulfill the initial program goal of informing students about sustainability and encouraging them to act. Daily social media activity gave students, faculty and staff a chance to share their experiences and participate from afar while also raising awareness of Hyundai’s sustainability initiatives, sustainability work happening at each campus and the ongoing progress of the Fill It Forward Challenge.

Throughout the 3-week program period, a little over 300 social media posts generated a total engagement of 634,667 people. Augeo also coordinated with each campus to create and implement a multi-faceted communications strategy, including print and digital advertising, on-campus signage, earned media coverage, all-campus emails, fliers and more to encourage participation in Drive the Future and the Fill It Forward Challenge. Communications were anchored by a centralized program landing page that attracted an audience of more than 6,500 users in a 3-week period.

Augeo’s strategic event planning followed another motto: “Leave the universities better than they found them.” Participating campuses had opportunities to receive additional funding to help accomplish long-running sustainability challenges. For example, one campus received funding to buy dedicated receptacles for pizza box recycling. As a result, Augeo helped ensure the lasting impact of Drive the Future and the Fill It Forward Challenge while also equipping campuses to continue encouraging more sustainable actions now and in the future. Small changes can lead to significant outcomes, as was demonstrated firsthand during this immersive and inspirational program.