Automakers get artsy to sell cars

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Automakers get artsy to sell cars


Left: Logo for the artistic collaboration between Renault Samsung Motors and French designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac. Right: Visitors to the Seoul Design Festival last week take pictures at the Camaro SS booth created by designer Kim Chi-ho. [RENAULT SAMSUNG, NEWSIS]

Flashy commercials and fast-talking car salesmen might have a direct influence on revenue numbers, but to draw a younger demographic, more automakers in Korea are focusing on brand awareness, pursuing marketing strategies like shareable artistic collaborations to spaces for consumers to “experience” the brand.

Renault Samsung Motors recently teamed up with French designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac on an artistic interpretation of its best-selling SM6. More than 50,000 of them were sold this year, surpassing the company’s initial sales goal. Earlier this month, the Korean government also named it the safest car of the year.

“Castelbajac is known for making art pieces that stand out with vibrant color matches and so on,” a Renault Samsung spokesman said. “We thought his interpretation would appeal to the new-media generation.”

According to the company, 33 percent of SM6 buyers who placed preorders before it launched in March were in their 30s, accounting for the largest share. “The midsize sedan market used to be dominated by people in their 40s and 50s,” the spokesman said, “but the age range is gradually going down.”

Castelbajac will unveil his interpretation of the car on Wednesday at Gallery Hyundai in Samcheong-dong, central Seoul. Renault Samsung is considering opening a temporary exhibition on the car.

The Korean unit of British luxury automaker Jaguar Land Rover opened what it calls a “cultural dealership” in Haeundae, Busan’s popular beach district, in September.

The first floor has only two vehicles - the Evoque Convertible and F-Pace - on display, and the rest of the space is a cafe. The venue’s purpose is not to sell cars per se but to make the brand more familiar to younger visitors. The two cars are displayed in collaboration with bicycle company Cannondale and surfboard maker Minossurf to better appeal to younger passersby who visit Haeundae to enjoy water or cycling sports.

“The boutique venue is where people can enjoy and experience the premium lifestyle that our brand pursues,” the company said in a release.

Incorporating artistic elements into marketing is also effective in creating viral content, which raises its effectiveness among a younger generation that tends to be very active online.

GM Korea displayed its flagship sports car, the Camaro SS, at the Seoul Design Festival, a first for an automaker, last week in collaboration with Korean designer Kim Chi-ho. Emphasizing its dynamic exterior, the booth had seven mirrors installed with the red Camaro SS in the center.

There are now more than 500 posts with its project name tag, “Camaro is Art,” on Instagram.

“Utilizing social media is an essential element in marketing, especially when you want to approach the younger generation,” a GM Korea spokeswoman said. “The distinctive booth of the Camaro SS was the go-to spot for taking photos at the festival according to organizers.”

Porsche opened a temporary pop-up store last month at Lotte World Mall in southeastern Seoul under the project name “The Sound of Porsche” and encouraged visitors to share their experience at the store online. In one corner of the space, visitors could draw their own version of a Porsche and upload it online. The company then selected the best designs, and winners received free plane tickets to Germany to visit the Porsche Museum.

“The age range of target customers for Porsche as well as other premium import brands has skewed younger for various reasons, one of which is the lineup’s diversification,” a Porsche Korea spokeswoman said. “In order to better appeal to these potential customers, we thought such ‘experiential’ marketing events aimed at enhancing brand image instead of a specific model would be very effective, and we are going to continue such strategies.”

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