Type A or Type B? Cautious or reckless? Jekyll or Hyde? Gas or brake?
Placing people into opposing categories to describe their personalities is a time-honored tradition, but car rental company Hertz put a new spin on the idea last year with its “Gas or Brake” campaign, which took two “opposites attract” characters and asked fans which one better represents them. On Facebook, fans could assign a category, “gas” or “brake” to their friends or take a personality quiz.
“It’s easy for us to put something out there and have someone ‘like’ it,” says Lemore Hecht, manager of communications and social media at Hertz. “It’s something else for people to actually participate.”
The campaign struck such a nerve with Hertz’s Facebook fanbase that Travel + Leisure magazine gave the company its first-ever Social Media + Tourism Award (a SMITTY) for best use of a social media platform.
Hertz started its Facebook page in 2009, but didn’t really ramp up its strategy on the site until about 18 months ago, Hecht says. The Gas and Brake campaign got going not long after that, in May 2011.
The campaign coincided with a series of commercials about an adventurous and sometimes reckless woman (the Gas) teaming up with an often-terrified guy who tends to like making plans well in advance (the Brake). Hecht says Hertz developed the idea with its agency partner but couldn’t say for sure just how long that process took.
The Facebook component of the campaign mirrored a Hertz microsite that had three major components.
First, there was the quiz, “a short series of questions that determined whether they’re the gas or the brake,” Hecht says. Users were shown several pairs of photos and had to choose which of the two appealed to them more. Upon finishing, users got a badge classifying them as the gas or the brake, which they could share on Facebook or other social sites.
The second component, “The Decider,” was a game that enabled players to label their Facebook friends as the Gas or the Brake. The third part gave users the opportunity to watch the TV commercials, which racked up thousands of views.
“Having multiple elements, not just having one element, was beneficial,” Hecht says.
Beyond that, letting people designate a personality type for their friends was fun and fresh, she says.
About 37,000 people visited the microsite, Hecht says, and 24,000 used the Facebook app.
The first week of the campaign, Hertz saw 145,000 interactions on its Facebook page and racked up 800 new “likes.”
Since the Gas and Brake campaign, Hertz’s overall Facebook strategy has focused heavily on games and contests. For example, this week, the company announced the winner of a sweepstakes to attend a concert while relaxing in a Chevrolet Camaro convertible.
“The larger focus is really more on engaging content,” Hecht says.
In March, as Hertz neared 80,000 Facebook “likes,” the company posted a message indicating that fans had a surprise coming their way once the count reached that milestone. Hertz promoted its push to 80,000 followers on Twitter, Hecht says.
When the company hit the 80,000 mark in May, it posted a photo announcing that fans can get a discount on a rental by clicking on a Fan Discount tab. Hecht says the move was a thank-you to existing fans, but she said it’s also a way to invite new fans into the fold.
There’s more to the page than just contests and discounts, though.
For example, on Tuesday, Hertz posted a photo of its new solar panels at John F. Kennedy and Newark airports, which racked up several dozen “likes.”
Sometimes, the company shares something a fan digs up, such as an old commercial.
“It’s a lot of sharing just what’s going on,” Hecht says.
Matt Wilson is a staff writer for Ragan.com.