Holmes Report 18 Aug 2011 // 11:00PM GMT
Opel launched the new, updated Meriva model into a perfect storm in Spain: the recession, a VAT hike, and the end of a scheme giving back €2,000 for old cars. ‘Nanny on Board’ drove the Meriva safely through with an interactive family-friendly campaign which fuelled the joy of travelling with kids and eliminated ‘are we there yet?’ wails from the back seat. Madrid’s Gardens of Fortuny were transformed into a fantasy playground for media, celebrity mums and childcare experts shared tips for happy car journeys, and dealerships installed playgrounds. Dealer traffic increased by 144% and incredibly, while Spanish car sales plummeted by 32%, sales of the Meriva almost doubled.
Opel is one of Europe’s largest car makers, operating 13 plants in eight countries. Together with its sister brand in the UK, Vauxhall, it sells vehicles in more than 35 markets in Europe. However, like all automotive companies, in 2010 it was facing a perfect storm in Spain: the ongoing recession, 20% unemployment, a 2% hike in VAT, and the end of a government scheme giving back consumers €2,000 for their old car.
It was arguably the worst environment ever in which to try and sell new cars. So when Weber Shandwick and creative agency Dommo were brought in to launch the Opel Meriva in Spain this was a huge challenge, not least because the mini MPV had actually been on sale for months, and there was no advertising budget.
The Meriva, launched to motoring media earlier in 2010, was in need of a new burst of information to consumers in time with the summer season, when traditionally sales experienced a second peak. The target audience was all parents, since the car was specifically designed to make travelling easier for families. The innovative FlexDoors® system opens up to almost 90 degrees, making getting in and out of the car easier, and enabling parents to keep a better hold of children exiting the car thanks to the rear-hinged rear doors. Parents can also reach into the back seat more easily to help with buckling up.
Consumer research opened the door to opportunity. Parents desired a car but also a way to avoid the eternal question ‘Are we there yet?’. The campaign needed to position the Meriva as the car that enabled parents to travel with, rather than just transport, their children.
The team had four clear communications and business objectives:
• Position the Opel Meriva as a car designed specifically for the family’s needs, with flexible storage, seating and accessories to make travelling with children easier
• Achieve a total of 12 clippings across TV news and magazine programmes, news agencies, daily papers, women’s magazines, radio and blogs
• Increase consumer visits to Opel dealers across Spain
• Increase sales of the Opel Meriva
The PR team worked with a local media-neutral agency to develop a creative, fully integrated campaign that would meet the overarching goal of Opel Meriva owning the emotional space of travelling with children, rather than just transporting them.
The answer was the ‘Nanny on Board’ campaign, positioning the Meriva as being so family-friendly, it was like having a nanny travelling with you.
The timing of the launch – as Spain and its media geared up for ‘Operation Vacation’ – the traditional long road trips at the start of the summer holidays on 15 July – was critical. This gave the team just 15 days from the start of the campaign to create all the collateral and plan the launch.
The team worked with childcare specialists to come up with tips for easy, enjoyable family car journeys, and produced a ‘Travelling with Kids’ DVD handbook. TV stations and online outlets were sent b-roll on how parents’ holiday car journey challenges could be resolved with the wisdom of the ‘Meriva Nanny’. A Facebook fan page was set up to give parents a chance to interact with the brand and ask questions about travelling with children.
The campaign started with a viral video to media and opinion leaders. Then the day before Operation Vacation, Madrid’s Gardens of Fortuny were transformed into a child’s fantasy playground for the Nanny on Board launch event. The event was hosted by Spanish celebrity and mother of two Alejandra Prat, Opel spokesperson Paco Aparicio and childcare specialist Laura Michele, who showed 50 journalists simple solutions for fun, memorable family car journeys.
The team also worked with Opel dealers. Playgrounds were installed at dealerships across Spain, where potential buyers could enter a competition to win a nanny for a year when they took a test drive, and were given a copy of the Travelling with Kids DVD.
Nanny on Board then went on tour, with the car, a playground and a team of nannies installed at Spanish theme parks for six weekends in the autumn, including Warner Brothers in Madrid and Terra Mítica in Valencia.
The launch of Nanny on Board achieved immediate pick up on Spain’s television channels, including national and local news, surpassing Opel’s expectations. This broadcast success was combined with enthusiastic features in society, lifestyle and parenting print media, as well as numerous hits online.
The target of 12 media clippings was exceeded seven-fold: the campaign yielded 102 print, TV and online clippings valued at over €500,000, with on-message headlines including: ’The car that understands kids’; ‘How to answer “Mum/Dad are we there yet?’; ‘The first car with nanny on board’ and ‘The first car with nanny stops kids getting bored’.
Most importantly, the campaign had a significant business impact. Between July and September 2010, there was a 144% increase in dealer traffic compared with the same period in 2009. Incredibly, while overall car sales in Spain plummeted by 32%, there was an increase in sales of the Opel Meriva between July and September 2010. This was an incredible result given the commercial context, and for a campaign that was executed in just 15 days.