Say you have a renowned consumer product that goes for around $2.2 million. You've sold around about 90 in the U.S. and 300 total around the world between 2008 and 2011. Need marketing? Probably not, but super high-end automaker Bugatti, which makes the fastest street-legal car in the world, the 1,200-horsepower Veyron and its variants, is now doing social media marketing -- although marketing may not be the right word.
The company, which has 10 dealerships in the U.S., recently launched a Facebook page with around 500,000 fans, plus 130,000 images on Flickr and more than 700,000 videos on YouTube. The new Facebook page, www.facebook.com/Bugatti, includes data on Bugatti’s activities and participation in automotive events, plus photos of Bugatti models in different cities around the world. On Twitter (twitter.com/Bugatti), the company is doing regular updates and imagery from auto events and test drives.
There's also new YouTube channel with content from auto shows, driving experiences and activities, and an app called Auto-Quartett, an auto version of the card game Top Trumps. Users can put Bugatti sports cars into a multi-round competition to see which is the most powerful. The game, which is free at the App Store for both iPad or iPhone, pits historic sport coupés head-to-head against the world's fastest Veyron sports cars.
John Hill, Bugatti sales director of the Americas, who works out of the U.S. office of parent Volkswagen (Volkswagen also owns Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini, and -- the most recent acquisition -- Ducati), in Herndon, Va., says it's about having a dog in the social race. "Before we established the site on Facebook, there were maybe 150 sites already that referenced Bugatti. So this was a way to connect with enthusiasts."
He adds that it is also a way Bugatti can drive awareness of its participation in famous auto events like the Pebble Beach (Concours d' Elegance) every year in Carmel, Calif., and Amelia Island concours near Jacksonville, Fla. "It helps us communicate what the brand is all about," says Hill.
The company also does invitation-only events for very small groups of "very serious car guys,” he says. “Last week we had a private event in Germany for four people from the U.S. who contacted us; we had a profile on each. If we are doing a private track event, we will know beforehand that they fit the profile of those who have tended to purchase before."
The larger picture is that for a mega premium brand like this, there are two extremes of outreach: open auto events and social campaigns for enthusiasts regardless of income or social status that awareness helps to cement the desirability and status of the brand, and invitation-only programs only for people who are very likely to purchase one of the vehicles.
Hill says the broad outreach is the fun part of the business. "We go to events, and you meet people who know at the time that there's no way they can afford a Bugatti car, but they are so enthusiastic about the brand." He says the company is considering an engagement program where people can help design a Bugatti show car. "So you will see enthusiast-focused things like that in the future.”