Certified Story Time

With the advancements of open source frameworks and UX software, it’s an exciting time for Designers and Developers to do high quality work in a compressed timeline.

- MRM Team

Can you briefly describe your project and the concept behind it?

We’ve all heard a horrific used car story or two…hundred. So, it’s no surprise that used car shoppers feel like their shopping experience is a gamble and their journey is driven by uncertainty. To combat the dread, we created humorous stories with likeable characters enduring twists and turns that imaginatively showed us when you buy a GM Certified Pre-Owned vehicle, you’ll find your Happily Ever After. While the stories were inspired by real life tales of used car woes, our site was a modern take on a library inspired by the framework of popular streaming services.

Talk about your initial prototypes. How did those ideas change throughout design and execution?

Our idea started out as “The Certified Zone” – a place where a storyteller narrates life situations where Certified Pre-Owned vehicles reign. The stories started out whacky with a Twilight Zone vibe, and throughout the development, we tried things from more real, to more silly, to even considering the quirkiest of storytellers, Nick Offerman. Once we honed our stories and considered budget, we had a cross-discipline brainstorm and landed on an immersive storytelling web experience similar to Hulu and Netflix. The UX team used Axure to prototype and bring the interactions to life across many breakpoints. The prototype had many changes, but we made sure to keep the integrity of the original idea.

What breakthrough or “a-ha” moment did you experience when concepting or executing this project?

We realized that when you tell a story, your imagination is the only boundary. So you can defy logic to, for example, have a narrator mouth other characters’ lines or have him jump in and out of scene, unbeknownst to the others. We also reimagined our strategy on how to be at the right place and the right time with the right type of content…depending on where the consumer is on their journey. As long as we were pushing boundaries, we knew the site also had to pay off all this whimsy with a happier vehicle shopping experience.

What influenced your chosen technical approach, and how did it go beyond past methods?

52% of car shoppers feel anxious or uncomfortable at dealerships. They do the majority of their research and shopping online. To break through all the boring and rational clutter (some of it was ours too) already in this space, we had to transform our brand into everything used car advertising is not. Instead of using vehicle jellies, we imagined characters you’d want to spend time with and put their stories on a website, which is a vital link to our vehicle shopping experience. Built on an architecture that was video centric across all devices and browsers, with this website we were able to have a native mobile app user experience in a fully responsive web environment, a first for this brand.

What web technologies, tools, or resources did you use to develop this?

Sketch, Axure, InvisionApp, Sublime Text, HTML5, Bootstrap 4.0, Slick.js, jQuery, Bitbucket , Brightcove.

How did you balance your creative and technical capabilities with the client’s brand?

We work in a collaborative environment where our creatives have access to tech, dev, UX, CX people, and we all work closely together. We started by painting a picture of our overall idea and everyone pitched in to help figure it out. This helped us come up with an experience that is intuitive, familiar, yet new and engaging. We were fortunate to have a client who shared our vision and encouraged us to push boundaries.

How did the final product defy your expectations?

Everyone from the actors, video production, user experience, digital production to the web development teams, delivered beyond our wildest expectations. Each team was able to add their unique twist and enhance the creative at every step. It also defied our expectations that within the given timelines, we were able to build a site that closely resembled the app experience we were looking for. • 1.1 BILLION media impressions (with the same media budget as previous year and prior campaign) • 30% average completion rate on all videos • 48% YoY increase total site visits • 5.8% increase in awareness, familiarity and consideration of GM Certified Pre-Owned

Why is this an exciting time to create new digital experiences? How does your team fit into this?

Our shoppers mostly shop online, so creating a digital experience is not just an add-on approach to the rest of our media strategy, it’s our main strategy. With the advancements of open source frameworks and UX software, it’s an exciting time for Designers and Developers to do high quality work in a compressed timeline. Also, as more people consume content across all devices, having the right message at right time helps us be more effective and relevant to consumers.

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