Marketing Racing #6: Porsche’s Heist and the power of Storytelling

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The Heist is Porsche’s video released at the beginning of 2020 and it is also the most-viewed automotive commercial on YouTube with almost 22 million views reached in a matter of months. The video promotes the new all-electric Taycan in a clever way but does even more.

*EDIT: After reaching over 24 million, the video has been deleted from the company's official Channel

I talked about Porsche’s strategy for its upcoming electric lineup previously and you can find the full article here Porsche EV Development Strategy. The video is not only fun but along with the characteristics of the vehicle, it cleverly shows what the brand is really about by appealing to people’s emotions. It sells a lifestyle in an engaging way.


A research by McKinsey shows Over-the-top services, such as YouTube, have the highest CAGR compared to all the other sub-sectors with, of course, Digital Advertising and Video Games as close seconds. This data clearly shows why efforts in this sector and more and more relevant, and likely to become so even more in the future. For insights on the Video Games industry applied to automotive have a look at the previous article How Covid-19 Turbocharged the E-Sports Racing Industry.

mckinsey graph*Source: McKinsey©

There are different factors that contribute to the success of this video. One is its length. According to McKinsey, the habit of consuming ‘bite-sized’ content stems just from platforms such as YouTube or Instagram. The 2:31 minute length of the video results ideal then for major consumption, which is proven by other companies’ videos of similar genre and length performing above the average, while longer ones tend to get less attention.


graph youtube*The Heist video and two full races videos have not been included in the graph as too far from the average in terms of views and length respectively.

The graph above confirms McKinsey’s data but shows some other interesting detail. For instance, short videos, between 1 and 3 minutes, show a high fluctuation in views figures, from over 10 million to a few hundred thousand (this is partially due to the fact that it is also the most popular type of video), this fork gradually reduces toward lower numbers as the video length grows. Another interesting observable data is that truly short videos below 1 minute instead (at least in Porsche’s case) tend to receive considerably less interest compared to slightly longer ones.

In the same research are described three tools that brands can use to grow and improve customers’ loyalty.

David ogilvy

The first is Distinctive content creation that focuses on specific strategic goals. David Ogilvy considered the Father of Advertising, in his book expresses some similar concepts that can be applied to the modern market. One is “Compromise has no place in advertising. Whatever you do, go the whole hog” (Confession of an Advertising Man, 1963). “The Heist” is indeed built around few visual, well-highlighted points. The car electric powertrain, its performance, and its desirability. As for the strategic focus, it is of course the aim at becoming the leader of the luxury performance EV segment helped by the fact of being significantly ahead of the competition.

The video is also distinctive in the sense that Porsche plays showing characteristics of their car indirectly. From its silent powertrain when it is first stolen from the museum without anyone noticing, to its performance when it is always ahead of the others and is actually the car being chased. They also establish an emotional connection when in the end the characters almost compete to be the next to drive the Taycan.

Most of all though, everything is tied together by engaging storytelling. Even in such a short video, which is what makes it an even greater example, there are unexpected elements and appealing visuals that make the viewer want to watch until the end.

At the same time also, Porsche makes sure to remind us about its status in the automotive world. At the beginning we are shown its beautiful museum, then comes a consistent chunk of its history with the cars selected for the chase. From a tractor Porsche-Diesel Standard 218 to the racing legacy with the 917K in the Gulf Oil livery, and various classic and modern road cars and limited editions, 718 Cayman, 911, GT2RS, 918 Spyder. All come, of course, after the EV Taycan.

The second factor is Content Curation to maximise engagement. The original idea behind the video proves the Porsche team's understanding of its fans and customer base. So it does the rest of its online presence.


The graph here shows clearly how despite not being the first brand in terms of following in his segment, Porsche manages to obtain far more engagement than all the other brands. This indicates knowledge of the niche and a consistent strategy to give the right media experience, which is key as the overall content published online multiplies exponentially every day and it becomes more and more difficult to gain attention. You can also see how the company fares against its competitors on the other major platforms here Automotive Social Media Marketing: Why Lamborghini is Winning.

The third tool regards the gradual consolidation of the media industry, especially regarding online streaming outlets, which gives companies the opportunity to access better data to gain insights about customer preferences and trends. This factor refers to the wider strategy and is thus not applicable to this specific case.


The whole industry is adapting to a finer, more creative, emotionally, and visually appealing online communication.

Within the same market niche, Lamborghini's social media marketing actually gets the strongest results of all on multiple platforms. On YouTube it achieves similar results with its two most successful campaigns called Lamborghini Real Lover and A true Christmas Story for Lamborghini’s real lovers discussed previously here Automotive Social Media Marketing: Why Lamborghini is Winning and now counting respectively 17.9 and 8.1 million views. Despite the different narratives, in this instance, Lamborghini’s storytelling also appeals to people’s emotions epitomising the supercar dream through the children's imagination.

Ferrari is also gradually moving in a similar direction. The best example of this is the video for the latest addition to the lineup, the Roma. In their official video, which is already the second most viewed of their channel, Ferrari presents the whole concept behind the new model through music and suggestive images. This makes particular sense as the model aims at a new market niche previously not completely covered by the brand and well represented here by the ‘La Nuova Dolce Vita’ concept.

McLaren does it as well very cleverly and in its own way with the 2019 GT presentation which is too the most viewed commercial on its channel. And replicates original ideas for other models too such as the P1 or the latest 765LT.

As for the other British automakers, Aston Martin brings an amazing example of storytelling with the SUV DBX introduction which probably gets the timing wrong though. The video, in fact, has been published only a few days ago, while the car has unfortunately already been teased, presented, and reviewed several weeks ago.


Finally, at the beginning of the video, I specified that ‘The Heist’ is the most viewed automotive commercial. It is not in fact the most-viewed automotive video. This honour goes to Bugatti’s Chiron 0-400-0 video. I did not include this in my review, as the company has such a selected customer base, with its super-low production volume that the business model and communication are, as a result, substantially different. The video is a pure performance demonstration.

Is probably not a case then that both Pagani and Koenigsegg most viewed videos are performance demonstrations respectively for the Zonda R and Agera RS. The two competitors like Bugatti have a production of fewer than 100 cars per year which all sell for way above £1 million. Along with luxury, rarity, and high prices then, it is engineering at the absolute extreme that has to represent these companies. Of course, fewer resources allocated to online marketing in this case is likely a major variable for these three really small companies when compared to the aforementioned luxury automakers.


Porsche as for its EV development shows vision and market knowledge. As online media and virtual entertainment continue to gain traction though, competitors’ strategy aligns with successful content, and the quality level grows accordingly and increasingly faster. This means that more of this and even better can be expected in the future, but also that incoming VR and AR integrations are likely to bring a further leap forward soon.

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