GMC Goes To Instagram To Build Premium Brand

GMC is one of the first brands to take to Instagram's Carousel platform, a mobile-optimized slide show.

To make an experience designed to transcend the static visual and negate peoples' tendency to disengage, the GM premium truck brand and Instagram created a Panogram -- which, as the name implies, delivers a wide view as the viewer swipes from photo to photo. 

The effort is part of GMC's “Precision” campaign around engineered excellence, which launched in March. The creative puts GMC's Sierra Denali pickup truck and Yukon Denali SUV in visually stunning landscapes, such as at a mountaintop wind farm with roiling clouds and turbines (Sierra), and on a parking tarmac before a private luxury residence in southern California (Yukon). 

The photography for the wind farm shoot is from the perspective of the driver, first through the left window, where one sees a woman standing several feet away, an array of turbines rising behind her; then through the windshield, which offers a good view of the truck's console and appointments; then through the right side window, where we see a guy taking a photograph of the woman. The viewer, who swipes from photo to photo, therefore gets a sweeping view of the truck's interior.



“We tried to be very careful balancing images of the vehicle with beautiful images of the landscape," says Janet Keller, GMC's advertising, social media, CRM and digital manager. She adds that marrying art and product in photography is a balancing act. "I thought this was a compelling way to achieve that.”

The campaign, set to run for one month, is being delivered against a broadly defined targeted, between 25 and 54 years of age. “Of the 70 million or so users of Instagram, about 15 million are the [target] age,” Keller says. She concedes that targeting Instagram offers today is somewhat limited “but we are piloting this, and down the road will have access to more sophisticated and diverse filtering and targeting.” 

Keller tells Marketing Daily that Instagram is serving principally as a brand-building tool for GMC, as one might expect in a coffee table magazine photo spread. “You can see it in visually and aesthetically arresting photos that can convey a story,”  she says.

She says the trick is that with Carousel, you have to make the first photo captivating enough to be a teaser for the next photo, and then the next. That meant GMC avoided doing typical shoots. “We worked directly with the Instagram team," she says. "I briefed the team a couple of months ago, and they came up with several ideas, and then [Instagram] found photographers from its user network. They actually went out and shot photography for us, so it was a collaboration from beginning to end.”

GMC is pairing the pilot program with a survey-based KPI study, targeting those who got the Instagram link. “We want to gauge brand opinion lift from exposure to ads.” She adds that the ROI is also being measured via click-through to GMC's site.

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