Until now, consumers have been able to "build" a car of their choice on almost every auto maker's Web site; however, to experience the true beauty of the new 2009 Porsche 911, Porsche Cars North America (PCNA) is taking its site's visitors to the next level of Internet interactivity by enabling them to draw their own roads and then "drive" on this virtual asphalt.
Developing the latest automotive advances has been a hallmark of the Porsche brand, and the company's new, innovative "micro-sites" use the most up-to-date digital technology to offer a sense of what driving a 2009 Porsche 911 is all about, as well as immerse visitors in the 911's features.
"Our goal was to go well beyond simply picking the colors and options on a new 911; the goal is to actually make it possible to have an engaging experience with the car that hints at what it is like to get behind the wheel," said David Pryor, PCNA's Vice President of Marketing. "You could say the technology available on our Web site is providing an engaging and clear way to communicate the technology in our car."
The latest version of the iconic Porsche, the updated for 2009 911, goes on sale September 20 and features significant advancements, including engines with direct fuel injection (DFI) and an optional seven-speed transmission called Porsche-Doppelkupplung (PDK), which is essentially two transmissions in one: an automatic that is actually a true manual that uses two automatically engaged clutches. The result is more power in the 911 model series with improved fuel efficiency, a development that helps Porsche meet today's demands for reducing environmental impact, yet maintain the brand's performance persona.
"Obviously, the best way to understand why this new technology is important is to drive the car; we think the second best way can be experienced by navigating the new web features," said Pryor. "Our goal is to deliver an unparalleled car-driver connection."
Working through its ad agency of record, Cramer-Krasselt, Porsche addressed the marketing challenge of replicating this connection online by developing a new 911 micro-site that delivers as immersive an experience as possible in the digital realm. The new 911 Web site goes beyond simply providing information at the click of the mouse by bringing the user into the equation. A visit, either through http://porscheusa.com/911 or from buttons within www.porscheusa.com , begins with a product tour, during which the user interacts with the car by turning it, looking at its interior, and reviewing key features, such as Porsche-Doppelkupplung (PDK) and DFI.
The interactivity moves to the next level when the mouse-controlled cursor turns into a "wax pen" as the site allows the visitor to use his or her mouse to draw a three-dimensional road course on the computer's monitor to "test" the mettle of the new Porsche 911.
"This is followed by a video of the fully rendered, computer-generated-image (CGI) silver 911 driving the course," explained Cherfoli. "We use the same detailed computer-aided-design (CAD) files used by our engineers in the design of the new 911 for the CGI version throughout this site to ensure authenticity. If the user wants, he or she can share the file virally with others."
The site is supported by print advertising and interactive online banners that also bring to life the unique car-driver connection, featuring a heart-beating Porsche crest, DNA chains that build the perfect car with drive-train and gears that replicate themselves like multiplying cells, and copy that reads: "So evolved it's almost alive. Connect with a car like you've never experienced. Connect to the Core. The new 911."
For those who want to delve into the advanced workings in the 911 there is also the new Porsche Technology Web site, which can be reached either at http://porscheusa.com/technology or by clicking on buttons within the primary Porsche consumer site www.porscheusa.com , functions like a search engine. Users find information as they would on sites like Google -- simply by typing a word or phrase into the search bar and receiving all possible technical matches.
For example: typing "ceramic" into the search bar returns the choice of Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB), along with a short summary of this feature and a list of models which offer it. Clicking "911 Carrera & 911 Targa 4 Models" brings up another Web page with a specific written de scri ption and a video about the PCCB offered on these versions of the new 911.
"We use videos and computer animations to go beyond simple words to explain and demonstrate a feature," said Josh Cherfoli, PCNA's Online & Relationship Communications Manager. "The type and format of the information we provide is what an Internet-savvy user expects from a cutting edge company like Porsche."
Both Web sites will be promoted in all advertising and marketing materials. Looking to expand the appeal of the 911, while staying connected to the core Porsche target buyer, the online advertising buy will include, for example, Forbes.com, Wired.com and Bloomberg.com, and print ads will be featured in car trades and publications such as BusinessWeek, Fortune and Golf Digest. In advance of the advertising launch, Porsche recently sent customized direct mail pieces -- each including a personalized Porsche 911 badge -- to Porsche enthusiasts and past and present 911 owners.
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