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Acura leverages hyper-targeted mobile engagement to tap community loyalty

The success of a dealership in Honda?s Acura division in boosting brand engagement and mobile traffic by activating local community groups via a mobile sponsorship platform suggests how automakers can leverage hyper-targeted engagement to increase loyalty without excessively burdening local dealers.

By using the Pear sponsorship platform, Chicago?s Arlington Acura dealership saw a sharp increase in brand consideration, engagement and unique visitors online without burdening its relatively small marketing budget. The program was a win all around since brands are seen as active contributors to local communities, dealerships get exposure and local teams get sponsors, raising implications for larger-scale marketing plans. 

?Big brands sponsoring small community groups is almost unheard of in today?s marketing landscape,? said Amish Tolia, chief of strategy for Pear, Chicago. ?At the helm, Pear is enabling big brands like Acura to go local and make meaningful, genuine connections with consumers at the local level.

?This program shows the lift that one dealer saw through sponsorship of just 10 groups within their backyard,? Mr. Tolia said. ?If brands are empowered to engage more on a local level, these results can be multiplied across different geographies and demographics. 

?To engage target groups of target consumers, brands can use micro-sponsorships to authentically engage their target markets,? he said. 

Stickier relationships
The campaign created stickier, more meaningful relationships with every group member and engaged community members through digital and social interaction, with more than 60 percent on mobile. 

Arlington Acura co-sponsored Chicago-area sports groups by providing funds for uniforms and gear.

Arlington Acura, part of the Bob Rohrman Auto group, partnered with Pear to sponsor 10 sports groups in the Chicagoland area by providing funds for custom uniforms, T-shirts and warm-up gear. 

Unlike traditional sponsorships, team members or their coaches or parents earned sponsorship funds by engaging with the Acura brand through Pear ? such as visiting the Acura dealer?s Web site, posting photos of the team on Facebook, and sharing with their social networks. 

Each interaction earned the team money toward their custom apparel, which was provided by Acura.
With the Pear program, groups looking for sponsorship first visit the Pear Web site,, and choose from sponsors offering funding for customer shirts, cash donations or products and services, usually in the form of a gift card. 

Then, once paired with a sponsor, groups create their own Pear page and earn their sponsorship by engaging with the brand through a series of digital and social interactions ? from watching a branded video to following or liking the brand?s social pages. 

Each interaction is worth a prescribed amount, so groups rally their peer networks to support their efforts. The group has 10 days to earn up to $1,000 toward their group award. Awards are redeemed through the Pear platform upon sponsorship completion.

By sponsoring 273 targeted consumers across 10 groups, Arlington Acura saw a 65 percent increase in purchase intent and 58 percent increase in social media intent. It also generated 1,086 total platform engagements and 1,038 total earned engagements.

On top of that, 41,046 unique users visited the Arlington Acura page on and at least one car was purchased as a direct result of the program.

Pear is a platform brands use to market to local communities. Pear helps brands manage campaigns from start to finish. 

Before a campaign begins, Pear works closely with the brand to determine target demographics and success metrics and assists with integration and the setup of branded sponsorship pages on 

As groups request sponsorship, Pear?s community management team provides real-time verification, authentication and user support. Pear works directly with brands to tailor interactions to campaign goals and can target precise community groups based on geographic, demographic and psychographic characteristics. 

As campaigns rev up, Pear collaborates with relevant partner and agency counterparts for cross-promotion and campaign maintenance. Finally, Pear provides real-time tracking and bi-monthly reporting to ensure campaign success.

The program is the latest example of mobile?s power to form groups of users into communities.

For instance, Nike once launched a mobile application called Nike SB that let users participate in a global community of skaters by attempting challenges and uploading videos to the app.

In creating the app, Nike transformed the typically local sport of skateboarding into a global arena. The Nike SB Skate App was available for free in Apple?s App Store.

For brands focused on active lifestyles, and with mobile devices exploding in popularity, mobile makes it possible to reach the community anytime, anywhere.

Providing value
The Acura program comes amid a shift in advertising to benefit both brands and consumers.

Acura sponsorship on social.

?Engagement is a true buzzword,? Mr. Tolia said. ?Lots of brands aim to create it, but oftentimes these experiences feel forced. 

?The key to turning engagement into true brand affinity and advocacy is to provide real value to consumers,? he said. ?When brands provide something of value, especially tangible value like sponsorship funds for a local sports team, the consumer-brand interaction is more genuine and doesn?t feel intrusive or forced.?

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York