Holden Learner Dri[V]er

2015 | Carat Melbourne

In the crowded & highly profitable compact SUV market, Holden were looking for a way to set their brand apart and forge new connections with a younger target audience. 



The Compact SUV market is a crowded one, with minimal obvious differentiation from one feature-packed vehicle to the next. Holden needed to find a way to provide the Trax with a point of difference within the compact SUV category and generate excitement for the launch. Success was not tied directly to any sales KPI’s, but was rather about striking a chord and building rapport with a younger audience. 


We knew we needed to steer clear of any kind of heavy-handed sales job, as this audience would quickly switch off to it. We also knew that we wanted to position the vehicle in a more contemporary, ‘on-trend’ manner as a way of pulling the Trax apart from category competitors.

Our strategy was to create truly compelling content – content our audience would genuinely want to watch – that showcased the Trax in a completely unexpected context. We were trying to engineer a complete shift in brand perception, so the ‘comfort zone’ was simply not an option.



Recognising the changing TV consumption habits of our youth audience, moving away from broadcast toward on-demand entertainment, we decided to partner with music and entertainment STV channel – Channel V.

This partnership included the use of Channel V presenter, Marty Smiley, self-proclaimed mustache artist and hummus enthusiast, who might look 12 years old, but legal assures us is 21.

Among Marty’s many and varied talents is the ability to make famous friends – including local and international musicians – something we looked to use to our advantage for this campaign.

Together, we created Channel V’s first ever branded content series: Holden Learner Dri[V]er.

You see, Marty harboured a shameful secret – he had never actually gotten his Dri[V]er’s license and was still on his Learner’s permit. The concept of the series was to use ten high profile musicians, including the likes of Meghan Washington, Peking Duk,Art vs Science and Havana Brown,to give Marty Smiley a one hour driving lesson each behind the wheel of a Holden Trax.

The goal was to round out the 120 hours of driving required for Marty to be eligible to sit for his Probationary License in the most exciting fashion possible, cleverly linking back to Holden’s core brand purpose of ‘creating better journeys’.  

Each unscripted lesson focused on the artist and their journey to popularity, as well as career highlights and behind the scenes insights. The lessons were filmed and edited to create engaging ten minute, five minute, and one minute content pieces which were run on air and online. Episodes then premiered in full following Saturday’s fortnightly [v] Music Video Chart.

To complete the campaign and following all of the driving lessons, Marty was in fact successful in testing for his P Plates, and to wrap the campaign up Holden staged a free “Pass Party” with Marty in Sydney which was promoted on air and online and attended by hundreds of revelers in guerrilla-gig style.


Holden Learner Dri[V]er was a runaway (okay, driveaway) success, breaking new ground for Holden in the youth market and contributing to a major shift in brand perception.

Our top-performing episode reached over 170,000 people. It no doubt helped that this episode not only featured acclaimed Australian artist, Peking Duk, but also some appalling driving from Marty that resulted in a minor bingle. It even earned us the top spot in terms of content performance on Channel [V] that week. #nailedit

Other highlights included:

  • Episode 7, featuring Art v Science, reached a massive 17% of all people 18-24.
  • Online content proved to be highly engaging and super sticky, achieving an above average viewer completion rate of 47% for the five minute clips, and 30% for the full ten minute episode
  • Over the six month campaign, Holden Learner Dri[V]er reached over 5.9M viewers via STV, as well as 6,300 completed online episode views and 1.8M impressions of the Trax online. 
  • Content featured in the Pay TV Electronic Program Guide reached 909,085 viewers.
  • Both Channel [V] and Marty spruiked the content series via their respective social channels, reaching over 239,000 people. 

As testament to the quality of the content and genuine viewer interest, before the first episode had even aired, Learner Dri[V]er was picked up by News, The Music, TV Tonight, Pagesdigital & The Daily Telegraph.  

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