The Kerri Martin Effect?

Back in March 2005, MotoringFile reported on the departure of Kerri Martin from MINIUSA to become director of marketing at VW. A couple recent developments caught our eye as projects Ms. Martin may have influenced, as they tend to be in line with what we would have expected from MINI.

MINIUSA had a reputation for cultivating alternative media in ways that was able to break through the clutter. Unfortunately, MINIUSA was left in the lurch when its ad agency departed for VW (notably only months after Ms. Martin arrived at VW). While MINIUSA was forced to search for a new agency and try to decide what adjustments to make to the positioning of MINI in the media, VW was already a step or two ahead.

Podcast

In January at the North American International Auto Show, VW of America released a series of podcasts on their own site: vwpodcast.com While the podcast format may be familiar to White Roof Radio listeners, the fact that a major automobile manufacturer like VWoA undertook such a project demonstrates their openness to experiment with alternative distribution methods.

ProjectFast

ProjectFast was launched on the internet prior to the recent rash of new commercials for the new GTI. Initially, the internet site contained a survey that enabled enthusiasts to tell VW a little about their perceptions of what FAST was, and opt in to a mailing list for future website developments. Through the website visitors learned what their FAST looked like (a modern day mischievous black ball in the shape of a rabbit – a historical tie-in to VW’s original Golf). To coincide with the first TV commercials, the ProjectFast site changed and an online configurator for the new GTI was launched.

ProjectFast appears to mark a couple of key developments for VW. It’s the first new advertising campaign since Crispin Porter + Bogusky took over the VW ad account. ProjectFast also demonstrates a major advancement on VW’s part to integrate its internet message with its television presence.

Taken together, both the Podcast and ProjectFast show some pretty clear intensions on the part of Volkswagen to be more savvy with they’re use of media. While it is hard to say how much of this is the result of Kerri Martin’s efforts, it is clear that she has had a substantial role to play.

MINIUSA and Butler Shine have their work cut out for them as they plan where to take the MINI brand with the next MINI. For now, we’re left to ponder when they’ll make their move and if they’ll have the goods when they do.