Skoda Offers Cars to Nicest and Meanest Brits on Facebook

Contest Scores Behavior on Social-Media Site, Lets Your Friends Rate You

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LONDON (AdAge.com) -- Skoda is asking British Facebook users to prove just how "mean" or "lovely" they are, with the winners at each personality extreme taking home a brand-new car.

To participate, consumers have to open up their Facebook pages to be judged, allowing Skoda to monitor their activity. Scores are given for how many people they wish a happy birthday, what kind of films and books they like, how often they post messages and how many friends they've dumped.

Havas-owned Archibald Ingall Stretton created the social-media campaign for Skoda, to support the new "made of meaner stuff" TV and print campaign by Fallon, London, which is a dark reworking of the earlier "made of lovely stuff" campaign that ran in 2007.

To make sure that the Facebook competition does not encourage bullying by those trying to win a car by being meaner than anyone else, Skoda is "scoring" all activity that took place in the month prior to Nov. 1, when the promotion began. A complicated algorithm scores a person's "likes" for "mean" or "lovely" ratings , and judges their activities.

Geoff Gower, a creative director at AIS, said, "Facebook has told us it's the most comprehensive use of Facebook Connect so far. It's been fun, but it was a lot of hard work to get the right system in place. So far the results feel real, with male hot rods at the mean end, and cat-loving women at the lovely end."

Once an individual's score has been generated, the viral element is introduced, and people are encouraged to ask their friends to boost their ratings in one direction or the other. Nearly 3,000 people signed up before the campaign was fully launched, and many more are expected to join the competition before it ends in January.

The original TV ad showed a group of bakers making a car entirely out of cake and icing, while Julie Andrews sang the song "My favorite things" from "The Sound of Music."

Fallon's new spot features the same song, sung by a heavy-metal band. This time, the car is built by a cast of characters including a man in a Viking helmet shooting a bow and arrow, a man with metal teeth who bites into the doorframes, and a fierce-looking woman in white gloves. As they work, poisonous snakes and vultures hang around the factory.

Heide Cartledge, national communications manager at Skoda U.K., said in a statement, "The 'Made of Meaner Stuff' campaign will see Skoda reaching a new audience -- the younger, cult demographic in addition to our mainstream customers."

In the U.K., Skoda is on track for its best year ever. In the first nine months of 2010, Skoda U.K. sold 33,100 vehicles, up 23% compared to the same period last year.

Fallon has helped turned around the Skoda brand since winning the business in December 1999, just as it became part of the Volkswagen Group. Before that, Skoda was considered something of a joke as a relic of Eastern Europe's communist regime. Skoda was established as an arms manufacturer in 1859, and Skoda cars were produced behind the iron curtain in the old Czechoslovakia, where they earned an international reputation for poor design and low quality.

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