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VW Turning To Old Icons To Take on Rivals

Posted by: David Kiley on May 13, 2009

Every car company would like to have a Volkswagen Beetle. The original I mean. I mean…take a car that is designed in the 1930s, perfected after WW2. Improved, but not re-engineered from time to time for the next 60 years until the last one rolls off the assembly line in a developing market (Mexico) that didn’t demand up to date and state of the art emissions and safety standards. Talk about amortizing your costs! Wow!

A car that ubiquitous, broadly accepted and even loved, is an asset, though if handled badly it could be a curse (a legend that successors can’t live up to…think Hank Williams Jr.) The original Beetle is a prime example of how important a brand’s history can be if handled well.

Volkswagen surprised a lot of people last year when it launched a new ad campaign by way of Crispin Porter +Bogusky with the slogan Das Auto. Ads initially featured Max, a 1964 VW Beetle that talks with a campy German accent; surprising because VW’s German execs have long been ambivalent about turning to the original Beetle to push its current state of the art technologically advanced vehicles. The Beetle is a museum piece in Germany.

But, seeing that the “Max” ads are garnering 50% to 75% higher engagement from TV viewers, according to Nielsen/IAG research, which tracks how closely TV watchers pay attention to TV programs and ads, VW is doubling down. A new batch of ads will use not only Max, but a talking VW Microbus to push VW’s three-year free maintenance deal, as well as a new raft of model ads that use the two “museum cars” to take aim at Japanese competitors for value, performance and engineering.

The campaign, which is titled “Meet The Volkswagens,” is meant to help to increase the familiarity of VW’s growing product line, while bringing awareness to the true value of owning a Volkswagen,” said Tim Ellis, Vice President of Marketing at Volkswagen of America. “We will build our case by sharing facts about real issues that customers care about, debunking myths and doing it in a tongue-in-cheek and entertaining way that is uniquely Volkswagen.”

Each of five new TV spots will showcase a key Volkswagen model along with Max and/or the new BUS having conversations with the neighbors about competitive models as compared to Volkswagens. This is the first time Volkswagen will use a campaign to directly address its competition. Conversations will focus on key models including the clean diesel Jetta TDI, CC, Tiguan and Routan, as well as Volkswagen’s new Carefree Maintenance program offering no-charge scheduled maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles.

Next: Paging the Karmann Ghia to the casting garage!!!!!

Reader Comments


May 15, 2009 4:21 PM

Sounds similar to "I'm a PC, and I'm a Mac"


May 16, 2009 11:54 AM

its a shame porsche didnt help out with the new beetle... know with the platform and the flat 4 engine...

...then it would actually be worth buying....

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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