AToMiC: Citroen races through the Twitter-sphere

The car brand launches a unique campaign today that allows social media users to navigate a car across the Netherlands.

It’s not an everyday occurrence when average Joes and Janes get to navigate, from their computers, a brand new, out-of-the-box Citroen DS5 through different parts of the Netherlands.

Today marks Citroen’s first attempt at creating a social TV experience, with its “Twitter Race” campaign that takes the platform to a whole other level.

For the live-streamed race, the brand worked with Euro RSCG Amsterdam and creative studio Perfect Fools to create an environment on Facebook that shows well-known Dutch radio presenter Froukje de Both and her co-pilot driving through the Netherlands – all according to directions taken from social media users.

The overall setup of the platform was quite a complex one, Peter Hamelinck, creative director, Euro RSCG Amsterdam, tells MiC, adding that the agencies had to build a Twitter feed on the Facebook page in order to calculate the number of people who want the driver to take a certain direction.

For example, the driver’s co-pilot can post a tweet (which will show up on the Facebook page) that says, “We are taking the next off ramp, which way should we go after that?” Beneath the live-streaming video on the page will be a set of answers – “left” or “right.” The user can then choose which button to press and their answer will be posted as a tweet on their Twitter page. This will then be calculated and provide a percentage of how many people want him to take a certain direction and when the time is right, the driver will follow the majority-rule instruction.

To add another interactive element to it, users can switch to a Google maps screen on the page and view exactly where the cars are in the country. When the time is up, the driver will stop the car, get out and hold up a sign with the last Twitter message. The DS5 car will be awarded to the very first person to tweet the message back.

The agencies were given between 150,000 and 200,000 Euros to create the online platform for the race as well as to spend on ads and media outreach to create buzz around the big day, says Hamelick. While the media buy focused more on ads on websites, the agency also reached out to editorial press such as FHM and Playboy magazine and influential Twitter users and bloggers to get the word out. A partnership with a popular radio station in the Netherlands has also allowed the brand to give hourly updates of the race via phone calls made by the driver to the station.

“It’s really brave for the client [to execute the stunt],” says Hamelick. “It’s quite a crowded market for car brands, most cars aren’t doing well in terms of sales. We saw that everyone was doing the same thing and we thought we need to create an emotional experience with its DNA of ‘Creative Technology.’ We wanted to get people emotionally attached to the brand.”

What is AToMiC? AToMiC stories are about cutting-edge advertising, technology, media and content creation. The AtoMiC conference and award show is hosted by Playback and strategy magazine. Read up on the most recent winners here.