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Eight Questions About "Aesthetic Intent"

Buick_logoAt One Degree, we like to call attention to leaders in Canadian marketing who are using new and social media to connect with audiences and build their brands.  GM Canada recently launched a podcast that is sponsored by Buick Enclave.  Entitled "Aesthetic Intent", this 6-part podcast focuses, perhaps surprisingly, on the connection between passion and beauty rather than cars. We had the opportunity to talk with Lori Roberts, Buick Advertising Manager from GM Canada and Nick Dean from MacLaren MRM (Buick’s agency) to discuss the creation of Aesthetic Intent.

One Degree: Where did the idea for Aesthetic Intent originate? 

The idea originated during an internal brainstorm at MacLaren MRM about how to make the launch of the Buick Enclave innovative, cost effective and lasting.  Looking at stats from the US, we found that the target audience for the Enclave was similar to those who listen to podcasts.  In addition, podcast listeners tend to be early adopters and influencers – we thought these were exactly the people we should be targeting to launch the new luxury crossover from Buick. 

We knew that the content of the podcast itself would drive credibility and would be the main catalyst to build and maintain interest. Through this approach we would capture a captive audience for a six-month period that would receive sponsorship messaging with each new episode.  Ultimately, the theme of the podcast series discusses the relationship between passion and beauty, as seen through the eyes of six intriguing and well known individuals.  Each episode discusses a unique topic that has subtle references back to the design of the Enclave (e.g. the lines of the vehicle, the interior design, the quietness of the vehicle, the soul of the vehicle, etc.). 

FYI: The name Aesthetic Intent is derived from the emotions associated with a tagline for the vehicle “where there’s passion there’s beauty”.  Aesthetic = beauty and Intent = Passion. 

One Degree: Were there any challenges that you faced within GM Canada getting Aesthetic Intent approved or accepted?

No, GM was very receptive to the idea and understands that in order to reach these younger more affluent audiences in relevant ways, they need to utilize emerging technologies/media. 

One Degree: Can you talk about the process you went through, both at the agency and on the client side, to make Aesthetic Intent happen?

In terms of recommending the opportunity to GM Canada senior executives, a great deal of work went into researching the benefits of podcasting, providing examples and establishing user demographics. This was a collaborative approach between the agency and the Buick client.

From a client/agency process perspective, we approached this initiative like any other digital project.  We followed the standard approval process.

The choice of guests was recommended by the creative team and approved by the client.

In terms of social media in general, GM Canada understands that some of the control must be given back to the consumer (whether it be through a site GM Canada develops or a third party social media site).  GM Canada is prepared to accept this reality.

One Degree: How will you measure success following this 6-part series?  What are you hoping to accomplish?

Success will be measured through the following: number of subscribers, downloaders, visits to our landing page, links from and the click-through rate from online media.  We are hoping to reach a diverse audience through an unexpected tactic and, through this campaign, set the benchmarks for future campaigns.  As this is GM Canada’s first foray into podcasting, the results of this campaign will create the quantitative success metrics for future campaigns.

One Degree: Podcasting is known as a social media, but you haven’t really built in any mechanism for feedback from your audience.  Was this intentional?  If so, can you discuss the rationale?

The mechanisms for feedback are provided through existing social media sites.  For the purpose of this campaign, we did not think these were required within our site.

One Degree: If Aesthetic Intent is successful, do you think you will continue the series or is this a specific campaign initiative?  Also, what other social media marketing initiatives is GM Canada/Buick considering?

There are no plans to continue the Aesthetic Intent series – this was a specific campaign, tied to the launch of the Buick Enclave. GM Canada is considering several other social media initiatives as they understand the importance of this emerging media platform.  However, for the purposes of this interview, we will not divulge further on any specific details.

One Degree: How are you promoting Aesthetic Intent?  Are you using offline or online media?

Blogger outreach, social media sites, online media, paid search, links, other podcast sponsorships, registrations with all the major podcast directories.

One Degree: Any words of advice for other brands/organizations considering either podcasting or other new/social media marketing initiatives?

That question alone could be an entire interview in and of itself…  From a top-line perspective the advice we would give is the following: research best practices, build a strong business case, develop a sound recommendation and be prepared for the unexpected. This is new territory we’re entering and the answers to all the questions have yet to be entirely figured out. You must build in contingencies for this type of approach.  Finally, if your initiative is being delivered from a corporation/business with a specific goal in-mind (e.g. launching a new vehicle), ensure credibility and transparency is apparent with any social media initiative/tactic.