“How about a couple whose 30+ year love story revolves around Fiats?”
This could have been an idea someone pitched in a Fiat advertising meeting. It probably would have resulted in a cheesy commercial that would get lost in a sea of other visual content online.
But this idea wasn’t cooked up in a meeting. It’s a true story. Thad and Maria are real people who met more than 30 years ago. Back then, Maria drove a 1978 Fiat 124 Spider, and ever since, Fiats have played a part in their love story. Now, Fiat is sharing that story through a crowdsourced visual storytelling campaign.
“Thad really liked the car, and I think maybe I started dating him because he could work on the car,” Maria laughs in the video that shares their story.
“My life would have been really different had I not met the cute Italian girl with the black sports car,” says Thad.
These soundbites are the stuff of brand storytellers’ dreams.
Pair them with old photos of a younger Thad posing with that black sports car and they tell an unbelievable story in an authentic (and heartstring-pulling) way.
So how did Fiat do it? Through the FIAT Owners’ Stories Project, in partnership with Tongal, a platform that connects brands with a creative community of people and enables a unique storytelling process.
In our visual asset management survey with the CMO Council, the majority of marketing executives agreed that visual assets are crucial to how their brands communicate, and the importance of visuals will only continue to rise.
Tongal’s goal is to help brands keep up with the growing demand for visual content by connecting them with their customers (who have great stories to tell) as well as creators (who have the skills to bring those stories to life).
“We believe that by leveraging a community, we’re able to bring the clients and fans or customers into the process, as well,” says Matt Blosl, head of business development for Tongal. “We help the brands tell stories through the voice of their customers, and what’s important about that is it’s authentic – it’s real.”
Authenticity is the driving force behind the FIAT Owners’ Stories Project.
Casey Hurbis, head of brand communications for Fiat North America, wanted to share the stories of real Fiat owners – real brand fans.
“I’m not on set telling these guys I want a certain angle,” Hurbis told Automotive News. “I want these videos to be told in an organic, natural way without too much client interference. In the social and digital world of today, people can sense that. It’s a turnoff.”
100 of Fiat’s brand fans submitted their stories for the project, ranging from Thad and Maria’s love story to the love story between wellness guru Teresa and her Fiat, which she named, “Todd.” When the Fiat team narrowed it down to seven great stories, the Tongal process matched those seven brand fans with seven producers. The result is a diverse group of real-life stories that Fiat can use on its website and social media. High quantity and high quality – it’s a win-win.
Fiat regularly shares the stories across channels to create a sense of authenticity and familiarity across the board.
— FIAT USA (@FIATUSA) January 14, 2016
In 5 Ways to Prepare for the Visual Content Apocalypse, PhotoShelter CEO Andrew Fingerman explains that as your brand shares an increasing amount of visual content, you have to get savvy about content sources. Your content creator’s perspective determines the tone of the final product.
Don’t underestimate the difference that sourcing will make in your visual campaigns. For example, are you aiming for high production value or gritty authenticity? Do you want the audience to “see themselves” and literally participate in the story which lends itself to crowdsourced content, or do you want to engage the audience in a more aspirational vision (i.e., using models and great lighting, often the purview of lifestyle photography professionals).
Fiat’s strategic sourcing sets an approachable tone for the brand. The crowdsourced stories allow the audience to see themselves in the brand’s content. The project encourages brand loyalty for existing customers, and invites potential customers to relate to one of the seven stories and picture themselves driving a Fiat.
With the FIAT Owners’ Stories Project, Fiat compensated the storytellers and garnered the proper usage rights for the videos. Every brand sourcing content from its crowd needs to keep these issues in mind. Here are some questions to ask yourself when working with crowdsourced content:
- Did I get proper permission from the content creator to use this content?
- What are the usage rights for this piece of content?
- Have I provided proper compensation to the content creator?
- Do I have a place to store this content (and its rights and permissions information), where I can easily find it later?
If you don’t know the answer to these questions, or if your answer is no, you’ll have to put in some work to avoid legal risk, streamline your workflow, and ensure you’re treating your crowd creators properly.
The FIAT Owners’ Stories Project highlights the potential of crowdsourced visual content. Working with your fans to tell stories about your brand can create a sense of camaraderie that a typical ad campaign cannot achieve. Plus, it can pave the way for stories your team would never have brainstormed in a meeting…