5 Questions For Mike Halminen About Johnny.ca

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Mike Halminen, VP, Co-Creative Director, “MacLaren McCann Direct & Interactive”:http://maclaren.com/, has spent the past nine years in the interactive industry, building brands of all scales from as large as GM Canada, to as small as the Sam Roberts Band.
With over a dozen international art direction awards under his belt, Mike has put his MFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology to good use in both interactive and mass advertising.
In his past life, Mike wasn’t a rock star, but he’s met plenty. As Creative Director at Maple/Universal Music, he worked with award winning musical talent including the Tragically Hip, Sam Roberts, Bruce Cockburn and Cowboy Junkies.
As the interactive creative leader and new media expert at MMdi, Mike supervises a talented team of art directors, writers, designers and other specialists. He inspires both the account and creative teams to think beyond what’s expected to create online experiences that surprise and delight.

*One Degree: What’s the basic idea behind the “Johnny.ca”:http://www.johnny.ca/ campaign?*
Chevrolet would like to be on more young people’s radars. With that in mind, the “Johnny” campaign focused on Chevrolet vehicles that are most relevant to youth by showing them in a unique way, both in message and delivery.
In the campaign, traditional mass, online, and guerilla-style tactics delivered the rules of safe and responsible car ownership through an “after school special” theme, presented in an unconventional, quirky tone. Johnny, the young Chevrolet owner hero, is constantly confronted with driving situations that could compromise his own safety and the safety of others. Holding true to his values, he constantly makes the “right” choice.
*One Degree: How is the Internet being used in this campaign?*
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The Internet is being used as a continuation of the story that was set up with the TV spots. It allows consumers to enjoy a more in-depth experience with the Chevrolet brand and vehicles by having the characters come alive online and be “spokespeople” to promote the features and benefits of the Chevrolet small cars. We also used other online properties, including MySpace, to see if we could generate some interest at a more grass roots level by creating MySpace pages for the main characters. Here’s “Johnny’s MySpace”:http://www.myspace.com/johnnysmyhomeboy page for example.


*One Degree: It seems that car companies are really getting serious about the web as a marketing tool. Why is this and do you see the trend extending beyond the automotive sector?*
In general, all companies, not just car companies, have to go where the people are. The Web is now an established channel that has something for everybody. It offers a way for consumers to act on what they see. The Internet allows companies the opportunity to start a two-way dialogue with their consumers in a way that is not as easily achieved with other channels. The degree of importance the Internet will play across industries varies, but it’s safe to say that it has earned credibility and as a result will exist within the marketing mix in some form.
*One Degree: I saw a huge billboard on the Gardiner Expressway here in Toronto that had the johnny.ca URL on it and nothing else. Am I supposed to write down the URL and visit later? I’m not sure I’d do that unless I understand WHY I’d want to go there.*
The URL billboard was meant to complement the billboard beside it that included Johnny in a familiar circumstance of “deciding to do the right thing.” By having the easy-to-remember URL so large next to the other billboard, this execution would remind consumers to visit the Website.
*One Degree: How are you measuring success?*
Overall, the campaign will be considered a success if young people begin to feel Chevrolet is more relevant to them and Chevrolet provides vehicles that they aspire to own. The degree of engagement online will also help substantiate the extent to which the campaign registered with young people.
Specifically, online elements are being measured weekly by the amount of traffic visiting the site and the depth of engagement, such as unique visits, page views, length of visits, content selection, and clickthroughs to gmcanada.com for more information.

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