Drive-in movie theaters are an American tradition and a historic part of car culture. But when Hollywood switched from film to digital projection, countless drive-ins faced the real possibility of going out of business. With American Honda, we saw an opportunity to help preserve this important part of car culture.
We rallied drive-in owners and supporters nationwide to launch Project Drive-In. Honda generously donated five digital projectors to the cause, and we asked America to vote and decide which drive-ins would receive them. The resulting effort was a choreographed use of branded content, digital and social media, and PR to bring national attention to this problem.
Driven by social-media advocacy, the campaign used existing Facebook communities to bring people together in support of saving local drive-ins across the country. Drive-in owners received a digital tool kit to campaign for votes on social media, and projectdrivein.com made spreading the word easy with prewritten social posts, emails, profile photos, and digital badges. To raise awareness and donations, we also hosted a nationwide pop-up drive-in tour, and a Twitter Vine auction with film critic Leonard Maltin.
After 45 days of campaigning, more than 2.6 million votes were cast on projectdrivein.com. The site received over 3.6 million visitors. The cultural impact was immense: Thanks to social media advocacy and news reports, Project Drive-In garnered over 867 million earned impressions, and more than 379,600 social shares (across blogs, forums, Twitter, and news). We had numerous mentions from influential celebrities, such as Wes Craven and Kristen Bell. Even brands like Cheerios and Autotrader donated to the cause, and we raised more money on our Save the Drive-In crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.
Best of all, 27 drive-in theaters were saved.