Buick is challenged with outdated perceptions, despite their advanced products. As a brand, they have high name recognition among US auto buyers, but are still burdened with perceptions that Buick vehicles are designed for older drivers, are out-of-touch stylistically and technologically, and are not competitive with other Premium cars and SUVs.
Heading into the 2018 college basketball championships, Buick needed a re-evaluation – a second chance. More specifically, they needed to surprise college basketball fans who weren’t actively considering a Buick and get them to have a “That’s a Buick?” moment.
Basketball is what’s expected at the largest college basketball event of the year. From previous years activating at the college basketball championships, we knew that every other marketer would be bringing in some kind of basketball-themed activation.
But when everyone is doing a variation on a theme, no one stands out – which is the exact opposite of what Buick, a brand looking to disrupt expectations, needed to do.
Drop the ball and create a campaign built around fandom when every other brand is focused on basketball. Establish a school dedicated to the art and science of being a better fan: Buick Fandom University.
We created Buick Fandom University, a school dedicated to furthering the art and science of being a fan. It was designed to stand apart among a sea of activations at the college basketball championships, with a clear focus on the fans – not the game.
Fandom U, a school dedicated to the art and science of Fandom, was a place where fans of all kinds could unite around a shared passion for their teams and take their fan game to the next level.
Visitors to our space could engage in a variety of courses to help take their fandom to the next level, including:
- T-Shirt Cannon Mastery (CM 480) — A 60-foot wide simulator that enabled fans to test their skills with real T-Shirt Cannons.
- Advanced Fight Song Techniques (FS 187) — A course where fans created their own fight song video, then shared their team spirit via social media.
- Applied Fandom Arts (AF 319) — A hands-on lab where fans expressed their love of their team by customizing their own foam finger.
- Tailgate Theory (TG 350) — A course in the art of tailgating.
Visitors even left the experience with a Certificate of Graduation in Fandom.
We also created an official Dean of Fandom, comedian Lamorne Morris, who offered helpful fan tips to our student body via humorous videos that were shown throughout our display, in vehicle shuttles around town, and via vignettes on social media.
Buick Fandom University was built to be fun, surprising and immersive, providing Buick with a memorable storytelling platform to connect with a passionate group of college basketball fans.
Fandom U broke through a cluttered marketing environment to get college basketball fans to pay attention to Buick (Year over year lifts in display impressions, social video views, and press coverage), re-evaluate their outdated perceptions of the brand (pre/post lifts in key image measures), and begin thinking of Buick as a “Brand for Them” (significant lifts in leads and sales driven by the campaign).
Tangible lifts in driving new brand exposures from the previous year’s activation:
- YOY increases in display impressions (+6%)
- Press coverage (+34%)
- Social video views (+27% on Twitter)
Significant pre and post lifts in key brand image measures during the 2018 college basketball championships, proving the campaign was successful in changing outdated perceptions of the Buick brand:
- Attractive styling (+15%)
- Advanced technology (+13%)
- Brand for Me (+8%)
Boost in brand awareness and engagement, indicating the campaign was effective in reaching the intended target (college basketball fans) during a key time period and getting them to engage further with the Buick brand:
- 32MM campaign impressions during the college basketball championship
- Over 6 months of engagement time with Fandom U over the college basketball championship weekend
Got college basketball fans to add Buick to their vehicle consideration set, proving effectiveness in getting college basketball fans to consider Buick a “Brand for them” and created new Buick owners: