A voice-navigated website that will make you fall in love with the new BMW i3

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When it comes to electric vehicles, South Africans are more than sceptical. While they have been very successful overseas, South Africans believe them to be expensive, sluggish, and given the energy crisis in our country, impractical.

This was something the NATIVE VML team had to be cognisant of when devising the launch campaign for BMW’s electric car, the BMW i3.

“In order to launch the new BMW i3 to this very unsure market, we had to find a unique way to address these issues and convince the SA public that an electric car is not a sacrifice,” explains Jason Xenopoulos, CEO of NATIVE VML.

NATIVE VML wanted South Africans to connect to the i3 on an intelligent, intuitive and far more human level than any existing web experience has provided. Knowing that humans connect emotionally with other humans, a website was created that’s “so intuitive it’s almost alive,” says Xenopoulos.

The team designed a web experience that educates using an organic human conversation. “People can visit the site and rather than navigate their way through another car brochure, they can actually ask the BMW i3 everything they want to know.”

 “Our thinking was that since the BMW i3 is the car of the future, it deserves a website of the future. An experience that is intuitive and continually learning. The entire experience is navigated by voice; basically a face-to-face chat with the car,” he adds.

On the website the user interacts with the BMW i3 by clicking the microphone icon and speaking. The car can answer any question about itself as well as general knowledge questions. If the car cannot answer a question it always has an interesting response that steers conversation back to a relevant topic.

Content that relates to the topic of conversation appears on the screen while the BMW i3 is answering the user’s question. These become secondary interactive elements that the user can click on to learn more about the car.

“We also gave the BMW i3 its own personality. It has a favourite actor; it sings and likes Knock-Knock jokes. And, it prefers to be taken for a test drive before it agrees to marry you.”

Since the microsite’s soft launch in March the BMW i3 has been asked almost 12,000 questions. Despite an extremely niche target audience, the site has attracted more than 18,000 unique visitors and has delivered a conversion rate of 4% with 728 test drives booked.

“The main focus of the experience was to purposefully educate South Africans about the benefits of owning an electric vehicle, possibly changing their view of electric vehicles forever. We believe this campaign has gone a long way to doing just that,” concludes Xenopoulos.

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