Volkswagen Beetle: The curves that are in vogue

By Antara Ghoshal & Biprorshee Das , afaqs!, New Delhi/ Mumbai | In Advertising | June 09, 2010
The second television commercial of Volkswagen Beetle in India takes forward the thought that 'curves' are the in thing

The world's favourite people's car recently made its way to India, as Volkswagen launched the New Beetle in December 2009. The second commercial for the car has now been launched, and continues with the central idea, 'Curves are back'.

While the first campaign spoke about the privilege of owning and driving the iconic car; the current one strictly sticks to the car's looks. According to DDB Mudra, the creative agency, the time is ripe to intrigue the audience further with the most fascinating aspect of the New Beetle - its curvaceous shape.

& #BANNER1 & #In the film, one sees a thin woman stepping into a restaurant and taking a seat at a table filled with food. She is asked if anyone else would join her, to which she replies in the negative. The woman is soon shown gorging on the food without any guilt, proving how 'curves' have become a desirable thing. The ad ends with a shot of the New Beetle, followed by the Volkswagen logo.

The film has been directed by Christopher Von Reese of Stink Films. The creative team behind the ad includes Bobby Pawar, chief creative officer, Mudra Group and Rajeev Raja, national creative director, DDB Mudra Group. The copy has been written by Anshumani Khanna, Gururaj Rao and Nivedita Agashe; while art is by Timsy Gupta and Ameya Soman.

Pawar tells afaqs! that the creative concept behind the ad stems from the Beetle being an iconic brand, which has the essence of counter culture. "When the popular culture is that of getting flatter and people vying for size-zero figures, Beetle - the voluptuous car -- is all about curves. Curves are definitely better than straight lines," he says.

Sharing an interesting anecdote from the film shoot that took place in Cape Town, Pawar says that the woman in the film, who appears quite skinny, actually kept eating for eight hours through the shoot.

As is typical of Volkswagen, one can expect to see aggressive print promotion, outdoor innovations and digital work, which will support the television campaign.

The not so right curves

Volkswagen advertisements have been discussed at length over the years; and more often than not, each campaign has been compared to the previous ones. The New Beetle film is no different -- comparisons have been drawn, and the current ad is found to be falling short.

"The ad is a bit of a disappointment. From an advertising professional's point of view, Volkswagen Beetle conjures images of a superlative body of work. Unfair as it might be, the new work will always be compared to the past, and this falls short by a big margin," says Saji Abraham, vice-president, planning, Lowe Mumbai.

While Abraham thinks the idea of people abandoning a certain beauty stereotype in favour of the new curved shape is interesting, the execution could have been much better and more befitting the Beetle personality.

"The visual appeal of the ad is in stark contrast to the genteel, graceful product. The woman gorging on the food far removes it from the 'curves' territory. There is nothing sensual or appealing about the act that is intended to get women to be curvier, sensual and attractive," he says.

Ashish Chakravarty, creative chief, McCann Erickson Delhi thinks that the communication could have been better, had the car's features been spoken of. However, he adds that it is an intelligent ad, with good production quality and a nice take on the concept, 'Curves are back'.

"Being a Beetle lover, I already know about its cult status. I do not need to be told how attractive and sexy the car is. I would like to know more about its features, or may be about modifications that have been done to it. Unfortunately, the ad fails to serve my purpose," he says.

Chakravarty also makes an important point, saying that the film does not give consumers, who might not know much about the cult status of the car, any additional reason to choose it; in fact, the ad might even appear to them as a teaser.

From the perspective of an ad person who is well aware of Beetle's advertising history, the creative definitely falls short, he notes.