In some ways, GMC seems an unlikely brand to stretch the social media marketing envelope. It sells premium-priced medium-sized and big SUVs and pickup trucks, not aiming mainly at the market of millennials that typically are the prime and most enthusiastic targets of social media campaigns. But that isn’t stopping it from exploring new frontiers on Instagram.
Its month-long #GMCprecision social marketing campaign (which launched on May 22) harnesses the interactive storytelling capabilities of Instagram, specifically its new panoramic ad format that’s optimized for mobile. The General Motors-owned brand chose Instagram as a premium social media platform that aligns with GMC’s value proposition, target audience, products and marketing.
The Instagram effort also supports the brand’s “Precision” TV ad campaign starring menswear designer Michael Bastian and its other social and digital marketing.
— GMC (@ThisIsGMC) June 4, 2015
— GMC (@ThisIsGMC) June 8, 2015
The visual heart of this campaign links the design and making of its vehicles to the precision and style that goes into a fashion designer’s line—hence the images shot on the streets of New York with models—that can be found on GMC’s Instagram feed.
It’s a narrative that follows on a long history between auto brands and the fashion industry—witness Mercedes-Benz sponsoring New York Fashion Week until recently and Cadillac sponsoring the first menswear NYFW. Not all of its Instragram followers see the connection yet, as you can see in the comments below.
“The great thing about Instagram is that it’s the cream of the crop,” Janet Keller, GMC’s manager of advertising, social media, CRM and digital, told brandchannel. “Out of your photo gallery, just one or two or three make the cut. The pictures have to be beautiful and curated and have a certain distinction in the photos and creativity that make them Instagram-worthy, and so there is a premium bent to the kinds of content that makes it to Instagram.”
As Duncan Aldred, US vice president of GMC, stated in its press release: “Highlighting the precision of our vehicles within the context of beautiful photography helps us connect with consumers who embrace precision in all aspects of their lives.”
So GMC’s new Instagram campaign uses dramatic panoramic photography to illustrate the attention to detail in its vehicles that is also illustrated by its series of TV commercials.
When the format launched last month, GMC became among the first auto brands to create “PanoGrams” via the Instagram Carousel format that debuted earlier this year, while other brands such as Ballantine’s, which is creating a digital magazine on its Instagram feed.
GMC is inviting its Instagram network to swipe through a series of photos in a single ad, similar to the way a traditional magazine publishes a multi-page spread of a single image. GMC’s PanoGrams links consumers to its website for additional information.
GMC’s contributions include an image of a wind turbine farm that is viewed from a GMC Sierra Denli pickup and made to look “infinite” because of how the photographer captured towering turbines against clouds and filtered sunlight.
“GMC’s PanoGrams are an incredibly creative and beautiful use of Instagram’s Carousel format,” said Michelle Morris, group director for the Auto category, Facebook & Instagram. “Instagram is all about capturing striking moments, and combining the interiors of their new Sierra with breathtaking exteriors is an excellent way to call attention to GMC’s great vehicles.”
GMC’s larger, multimedia “Precision” campaign launched with television ads in March and will run throughout the year and features the entire GMC lineup. According to GMC’s press release, “Partly on the strength of the “Precision” campaign, GMC sales are up 15 percent year over year through May 31 as more customers shift to trucks, crossovers and SUVs.”
The choice to test Instagram’s PanoGrams and enriched Carousel format was easy, Keller commented. It’s a fast-growing platform that attracts “not just tweens and teenagers but a good, sizeable chunk of people who are between 25 and 54” years old, right in the sweet spot of GMC’s target market. They’re also divided roughly equally by gender. “It’s fertile ground for us.”