Vehicle debuts go live on Facebook


Bentley Motors streamed the unveiling of its speedy Continental Supersports on Sunday on Facebook Live, getting an early jump on the spectacle that surrounds the Detroit auto show and providing an early test of the social network's live-broadcast technology in the automotive space.

The automaker, which won't have a display at Cobo Center this year, says it chose Facebook Live because it wanted to reach a younger, tech-savvy audience that is more likely to be active on social media. Facebook Live, released last year, enables everyday users to capture and broadcast video in real time and gives brands another way to push live video content to their fans.

The fact that the storied luxury brand believes it can reach its wealthy clientele on Facebook shows the drastic shift in the network's demographics since its early years, when it was the playground of college and high school students. Nowadays, automakers can use Facebook's growing list of tools, such as Live and Messenger, to reach a diverse user base that is approaching 2 billion worldwide.

While Facebook Live is known for having users stream with the typical inward and outward camera views, Bentley deployed a camera crew to bring a level of sophistication to the feed and planned to broadcast from a variety of angles.  The production had a cinematic feel as Bentley weaved in running footage of the Supersports before switching over to the Detroit event.

Misti Murphey, Bentley Motors Inc.'s marketing manager, said the Live unveiling before the official press days was a way to break through the "noise" that surrounds the Detroit show.

"We're able to broadcast across the globe with Facebook Live. We're able to reach an audience that may not have been in Detroit," Murphey told Automotive News.

"There's a whole engagement piece there," she said. "Your customers and prospects are able to write questions, and we'll be able to answer them on-site."

Other brands have the same idea. GMC collaborated with Facebook’s Creative Shop for the Live reveal of the new Terrain crossover that took place Sunday evening at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. It was the first time GMC broadcasted a vehicle unveiling on Facebook Live.

GMC had several camera crews there to provide multiple angles for viewers during the stream.

“Going on Facebook Live can give you instant scale,” Rich Latek, GMC’s director of marketing, told Automotive News. “We took it more as an opportunity to not have it as a press event. There will be press there, but for the people on Facebook Live, [we’ve] turned it into a truly immersive and engaging consumer experience.”

BMW unwrapped the 5 series on Sunday on Facebook Live as well. At least one other automaker is expected to use Live for their presentation this week.

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