HAVING TRAVELLED over 13 200 kilometres through nine African countries, with 11 border crossings in 53 days, the ONE MAN kann Journey culminated its odyssey at MAN Truck & Bus Centurion at the end of October, effectively redefining the way new trucks will be marketed on the continent in future.
Designed to showcase both the new flagship Euro 5 MAN TGX 26.540 6×4 long-haul truck-tractor and MAN’s growing dealer network in sub-equatorial Africa, the ONE MAN kann Journey leveraged the power of social networking platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, attracting thousands of followers across the sub-continent and in Europe who supported the driver team of celebrity adventurer, Riaan Manser and ace MANLINE cross-border driver, Nduna Chari, by viewing the weekly YouTube video episodes of the Journey and posting comments on the respective platforms.
Addressing a large gathering, which included MAN customers, media representatives and MAN management board members from Germany, MD of MAN Truck & Bus South Africa, Geoff du Plessis, stated: “We passed through the southern tip of Africa; not to collect the Currie Cup but to share the adventures of the Journey with our Cape-based customers. It has been a real treat, and the trip up the N1, passing our dealers, was a fitting final leg of the Journey.
“The ONE MAN kann Journey has also been the perfect vehicle for MAN’s journey in South Africa, which has been ongoing for just over 53 years, and an ideal rolling celebration of MAN’s 100 years in the commercial vehicle manufacturing business.
“Over the decades, the road transport industry, both truck and bus, has seen significant developments in technology which have boosted economic activity and opened new international trade channels. The ONE MAN kann Journey demonstrated the synthesis of these advancements in an adventurous and innovative way, capturing the imagination of both the truck transport industry and the African public.”
MAN’s global Head of Marketing, Björn Loose, emphasised the growing importance of digital communications in commercial vehicle marketing: “The ubiquitous use of mobile devices like tablets and smart phones to engage with social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter has led to the sharing of both good and bad product experiences. This is a rapidly growing phenomenon and the fact that some 78% of consumers around the world use the inter-net to inform their purchasing decisions makes it vital for MAN to be part of the online community.
“MAN’s digitisation strategy is based on four pillars: ‘Connected Truck’ using MAN TeleMatics; ‘Connected Communication’ using cellular devices and the internet; ‘Connected Data’ using cloud servers; and ‘Connected Retail’ where interactive sales tools are used by our representatives to enhance the customer experience.
“The ONE MAN kann Journey was one of the most innovative marketing campaigns MAN has seen in its history, where all four pillars of our digitisation strategy were employed to not only give MAN vital data on the TGX, but also to gather intelligence on our African customer base which, quite clearly, was enthralled by the sheer adventure and novelty of the Journey.”
Loose continued, highlighting the importance of ‘digital storytelling’ in the evolution of commercial vehicle marketing: “Content may be king, but ‘context’ is queen. Customers want more than mere product features and benefits; they are demanding customer stories that are relevant to their lives and the ONE MAN kann Journey, with its world-class weekly videos, achieved this brilliantly – emotional brand-building at its best.”
For Manser, the Journey was personally transformational and underscored the relevance of experiential marketing today: “You only learn about stuff by actually doing it. You cannot learn about something by reading a book or hearing about it from other people. This epic journey in the TGX with Chari sharing his expertise with me has changed the way I view trucks on the road. They are the lifeblood of our economy, keeping everything together. What is more, trucking is about human beings and the driver is the most important individual in any fleet. The TGX really empowers the driver to perform at his best.”
The challenges facing professional long-haul drivers, particularly in Africa, were given mass public exposure by the ONE MAN kann Journey, as Chari concluded: “In Africa you have to adapt or be permanently frustrated. The MAN TGX is a massive improvement on its predecessor models – all comfort throughout, which makes for a safer and more efficient trip.”
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