While platforms such as TikTok have forced many luxury brands to break away from their usual straight laced marketing styles, Maserati is still taking a look and see approach.
In a recent conversation with A+M, Jihan Malik, head of branding and marketing communications of Naza Italia – the official importer and distributor of the Maserati brand in Malaysia – said that even though many brands, particularly in the luxury fashion sector, are giving the likes of TikTok and Snapchat a go, the Maserati Malaysia team isn’t racing ahead to make it a priority. This is not to say, the brand isn’t interested, added Malik.
“We will definitely consider [these platforms] in accordance to the global direction, especially as these new platforms become more aligned with our communications objectives,” said Malik.
Today, digital platforms have become key for the brand in Malaysia, which is looking to double its digital spend from the 35% it set aside last year. With the economy slowly reopening, and customer behaviour in the digital sphere fast-evolving, Maserati says its target audience is now expecting far more from brands in terms of online and offline experiences. As such, the brand looks to leverage technology to deliver true omnichannel experiences.
“Digital and social media have traditionally been our platforms for prospecting. As a result of COVID-19, we saw a greater amplification in terms of spend and content output for digital communications and performance marketing to capture a larger spectrum of consumers,” said Malik (pictured below). While the brand was far more reliant on traditional marketing and personalised, high-end retail experiences, the pandemic saw it needing to rapidly change due to reduced mobility.
“With most of the plans for 2021 being called off due to pandemic – the need to stay agile and manoeuvre during the uncertain times, while being able to act and decide, became critical to plan and execute the activities that were appropriate,” she said. This is where the brand harnessed the power of digital moving from on-ground to online, all while balancing the act between performance marketing and a conversational, inspirational approach.
Last year, Maserati too had tightened its purse strings on the marketing and advertising front, forcing it to reassess marketing campaigns, while maintaining a healthy bottom-line.
“Marketers, in general, are expected to stretch the business’ dollars and not be afraid to experiment,” said Malik. “That in itself became a challenge during the pandemic – to be able to convince the management team to buy into unconventional ideas, without spending unnecessarily while guaranteeing short-term gains,” she added.
“We need to be innovative in our marketing approaches to maintain the top-of-funnel activities, to ensure the brand and product relevance in the long run, even with limited resources, “ she said.
Malik added that probably the biggest lesson for her amidst the evolving nature of the new world would be to learn to humanise the brand and speak to customers’ concerns – not the brands’. They must have the clear ability to adapt, refocus, and take advantage of new opportunities for success.
“Marketers should consider placing powerful, meaningful online connections at the centre of their strategies – learning the language of optimism, mindful, and conscious communications for there are those who are in precarious financial situations or juggling multiple responsibilities,” she added.
Currently, the brand is working with FOREFRONT agency’s performance marketing arm – Aforemention. The agency was chosen due to its familiarity with Maserati’s brand and communication priorities in the Malaysian market, explained Malik. Together, the two created “discovery journeys” by associating browsing behaviours with in-market audience. The concept of “momentum” emerged to encapsulate the anticipation of all Malaysians towards the brighter days when people would be free to drive on highways and go to various places.
“The campaign allowed us to speak plainly about the moment in time with great precision,” said Malik, and the total impact generated from the “Momentum” campaign will help set benchmarks for effectiveness goals, and indeed serve as a budgeting tool for 2022.
Meanwhile, Maserati also made headlines globally last year for partnering up with Hiroshi Fujiwara, founder of Japanese streetwear brand Fragment Design to create an immersive 360-degree campaign celebrating the launch of “Maserati Ghibli Operanera”. The campaign was the first time Fujiwara has collaborated creatively in the automotive industry. The global campaign was inspired by street art and anime, using the streets of Tokyo as a canvas and backdrop for much of the promotional activities and creative work. The limited-edition Maserati Ghibli Operanera model was revealed on the streets of Tokyo along with an experiential pop-up store on Cat Street in Tokyo’s Harajuku district.