How a Shop Vac beat James Bond

I spent three days at the media circus surrounding the New York International Auto Show last week. The night before I attended the official media days, I got a few sneak peeks at some exciting products. One event probably cost tens of thousands to put on. One event cost well into the multiple millions to execute. Yet, their social media impact was decidedly different.

In the fashionable Soho district, I got a chance to see Honda’s latest iteration of the successful Odyssey minivan. For 2013, the big news for the Odyssey isn’t a new engine, or all-wheel drive or some multi-speaker entertainment system. No, the big reveal was what was in the cargo area: tucked under a plastic panel, a hose accordions out into the cargo area, and it’s connected to a small Shop Vac. Completely self-contained, the Odyssey’s vacuum option allows you to clean up the messes that a minivan’s target audience seems to make on an hourly basis.

From that event, I walked a few blocks to Range Rover’s reveal. It’s the all-new Range Rover Sport, the scaled-down version of the big brother Range Rover, and its launch couldn’t have been more dramatic. Streets in New York closed while none other than James Bond himself – the actor Daniel Craig – piloted a Range Rover Sport through the streets, and eventually onto the stage in front of media assembled from around the world.

What constitutes success in our eminently tweetable society? The answer came from one of my contacts at Honda – who will remain nameless – who, just before the Shop Vac reveal leaned over and said “Everybody still loves a good gimmick.”

One measure of success might be the traditional media outlets that picked up the story. Both the Range Rover Sport and the Honda Odyssey were featured on the Today Show. The Odyssey’s new vacuum was mentioned as an answer on NPR’s quiz show “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.” In terms of traditional media reach, it’s probably a tie.

The tweets tell a different story: The announcement of the Range Rover Sport piloted by James Bond generated 71 retweets and 52 favorites for Range Rover. A simple picture of a hand vacuuming a handful of Goldfish crackers out of the cargo area of the Odyssey managed to be retweeted 201 times, with 59 favorites.

Does a celebrity endorsement really mean all that much today? It may take years for Range Rover to find out. But did those 201 retweets sell a 2014 Odyssey? That’s pretty darned likely.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.