How Zipcar’s Gen AI Campaign Drove Brand Awareness and Site Visits


Artificial intelligence took the front wheel in car rental firm Zipcar’s latest campaign, saving time on audience research and driving more people to its site to use its services.

Zipcar’s second “Zip If” campaign in the U.S. aimed to boost top-of-funnel brand awareness. The campaign ran from June to September this year and aimed to position the brand as the preferred rental car choice for diverse needs, whether it be running errands or embarking on out-of-town getaways.

Gen AI was ingested through the campaign planning and execution, including brand competitive analysis, strategy development, initial brief writing, and drafting headline copy, all based on audience and category data gathered from its previous campaign in 2022.

“[Gen AI] saved our marketing team months of research and analysis and helped spark ideas, discussion and direction,” Justin Holmes, head of marketing & public policy, Zipcar, said in a statement. “While gen AI saved time upfront, the time it takes to contribute internal knowledge and the human touch is irreplaceable.”

In the last 10 months, a Gartner survey of 1,400 executive leaders found that more than half of firms have ramped up their gen AI efforts. Although some brands struggle to fully embrace AI, others, including Coca-Cola, have incorporated it into their marketing efforts. Ultimately this technology is proving to save time for both brands and agencies while meeting campaign goals.

AI for audience personas

Zipcar, with the help of ad agency Supernatural, created a few dozen gen AI-driven synthetic audience representatives, a process that took a few weeks. These personas included characters like Samantha—a 31-year-old woman in D.C.—and were created from Zipcar’s existing data sets, and were designed to answer questions specific to the city they lived in. This informed the car-sharing brand on how residents across different U.S. cities used transport.

Supernatural’s AI tool Merlyn suggested bespoke ad copy, which was then checked by human copywriters, to encourage people to rent Zipcar. For example, the tool generated the copy “Zip if art’s cooler al fresco,” referring to D.C’s Glenstone Museum (where the art is outdoors).

The AI-generated ad copies were presented back to the audience to test messaging and identify areas for improvement.

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