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From the 7th Annual Shorty Awards

Unboxing of OnStar with 4G LTE

Entered in Most Creative Use of Technology

About this entry

OnStar, a brand long known as the pioneer and leading provider of in-vehicle Telematics and Infotainment technology (General Motors vehicles only) had lost its momentum as improvements and new service offerings dwindled. Heading into 2014, we were no longer seen as the exciting and innovative brand we once were, as newcomers were flooding the market. It was time to re-establish OnStar as a technology leader.

Then the opportunity came with the introduction of in-vehicle 4G LTE technology, enabled through the built-in OnStar system. This high-speed connection would create a powerful Wi-Fi hotspot within GM vehicles, allowing our drivers to move effortlessly from home to car to anywhere.

Why does this entry deserve to win?

Our challenge was to develop a buzz-worthy effort that would break through the wireless clutter and resonate with our target, and it was essential to demonstrate our technology through an execution that was nothing short of amazing.

So we took an in-depth look at the target and found that, to them, being connected means being as close as possible to what's "new," to the point where they have ritualized it with "unboxing" videos. Over the last decade, hundreds of pieces of technology have been unboxed in front of hundreds of thousands of tech lovers. But for our target, 4G LTE and innovation comes in much smaller boxes. So, what if we introduce a technology they don't expect, in a way they expect to be introduced to new technology?

The solution was to "Unbox" a vehicle connected by OnStar with 4G LTE and surprise the world, but first we needed to build intrigue and an audience. Two very big boxes appeared in high-traffic areas. One on the west coast and one on the east coast. With only the word "Unbox" on the the side, no branding, and a street team armed with broad clues, the boxes drew thousands of guesses as to what this mysterious technology could be. These guesses were written on the side of the boxes, but also posted, tweeted and shared online. Visitors, at the boxes and online, could enter to win high-tech connection gear with the winners announced during the live-stream of the unboxing.

Now that we had built a pumped-up and eager audience, it was showtime. With a host carefully selected for her tech-credibility and social following, the event kicked off in San Francisco with a live stream across the complete AOL network of websites, including's homepage, Techcrunch and Engadget.

But just revealing the Chevy Malibu was not a true unboxing. We knew we had to go further.

Our host used the Malibu's wi-fi hotspot to connect with people from around the country. Her first connection was with a singer/songwriter in Boston streaming a live concert from a OnStar-equipped Chevy Silverado.

And then on to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where another host was posting selfies with Manchester United legend Denis Irwin, thanks to an OnStar-equipped Chevy Impala.

And finally back to San Francisco and our host, all thanks to OnStar 4G LTE. The entire event was streamed using the GM vehicles Built-in wi-fi.

We significantly outperformed the benchmarks set for our objectives. For the Unbranded "tease," we had over 33 million social impressions. For the Branded "unboxing," it was all about earned impressions, social sentiment, media interaction rate and the fact that we had over 7.5 million live stream video views. The icing on the cake came through a quantitative survey commissioned through AOL with Ipsos, asking viewers who watched the Unboxing to rate it on a variety of measures. The telling measure was impact on consideration: we saw a 50% increase in Chevrolet consideration.

This proved beyond doubt that our effort was a success. With a limited budget we reached a niche target; got them to engage with our content and ultimately consider purchasing a GM vehicle.


Video for Unboxing of OnStar with 4G LTE

Entrant Company / Organization Name

OnStar, Lowe Campbell Ewald, Carat and iProspect

Entry Credits