RPA, Acura Steer RDX Campaign Toward the Tech-Savvy

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For its new SUV, the RDX, Acura wants to reach beyond the average automobile enthusiast. Car junkies might drool at the thought of turbocharged engines, super-handling all-wheel drive, updated transmissions and the like, but the RDX has a more urban, savvy driver in mind.

The vehicle incorporates technological innovations like a navigation system with voice recognition, real-time traffic, and Bluetooth capabilities for hands-free cell phone use, and to correspond with this technologically advanced Acura, the automaker has launched a marketing campaign through RPA that targets the tech-proficient consumer.On-air, outdoor, and print ads use tech-inspired taglines like “Turbo Search Engine” and “Wireless High Speed,” but of particular note is the image-tagging campaign that enables the targeted audience to use their fully-integrated mobile devices to be a part of the promotion.

When one of these “urban dwellers” sees an RDX print ad, he or she can take a picture with their handheld device and email it to win@acura.com. In return, customers will receive a message that connects them to a WAP page where they can purchase a free ringtone and discover how to enter a sweepstakes to attend the year’s biggest music event in LA.

If you consider yourself tech-savvy, but haven’t yet heard of this promotion, a few initial compatibility issues that have since been resolved might be to blame. More likely, though, is that perhaps you’re not as clued in as you may think. RPA’s Andy Van Aken, the brains behind the image-tagging element, tells ADOTAS that this campaign is largely intended to spread through a viral approach, something that the well-connected audience should know a lot about.

Members of Acura’s tech-forward crowd tend to “live with their Blackberries and their Treos and their things like that and in a lot of cases, that’s their whole lifeline,” Van Aken explains. He also feels that, while often getting their information through mainstream media, they tend to search for the latest and greatest things themselves. “They do things like go online for blogs and they seek things out. It’s not necessarily expected that things come to them,” Van Aken says.

To correspond with this exploratory nature, the image-tagging promotion emphasizes curiosity over mass marketing. Information about the image-tagging aspect will be fed into blogs and will be featured on some promotional pages and sites of Acura’s general media partners, as well as third-page ads in select magazines. According to Van Aken, “You will see some banners probably around, but it is kind of a discovery-type medium.” The campaign will also be promoted at events like the RDX Technocharged Tour that Acura is hosting with ABC to showcase the latest high-tech toys and equipment.

The innovative technology that lies behind the image-tagging itself is actually very similar to the image and facial- recognition software that is used in the security industry. In this case, RPA is blending the Internet, widely available on the tech-informed users’ mobile devices, with the recognition technology to create a unique extension of a fully-integrated campaign. “It’s just a deeper level of engagement,” says Britt McColl, PR Manager for RPA. “These guys have these cool phones, so it just all makes sense for them to fiddle around with the campaign and see what it’s all about.”

Mr. Van Aken won’t divulge just how many images have been tagged so far, but he does foresee extending similar campaigns to future car lines and communications with consumers. “As users grow on WAP pages and [use] the Internet through their cell phones, I think we will obviously take more advantage of that,” he says.

For now, the campaign will run through December 1st. So snap a photo of the RDX with your phone and send it along, because considering that if you read about it here, you must be pretty savvy yourself.

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