Emvies 2010: When Volkswagen thought 'big'

By Devina Joshi , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media | August 13, 2010
At the Emvies 2010 case study presentation round, Mediacom made its case on Volkswagen in the Print category, and how a big splash helped it make a dent in the Indian consumer's mindset

Volkswagen wanted a memorable launch in India - and Mediacom went all out to ensure the brand got it. At the first day of the case study presentation round of the Emvies 2010, Mediacom made a presentation on Volkswagen, armed with two entries in the Best Media Innovation: Print category - 'Roadblock that took India by storm' and 'Volkswagen Polo: TOI with a hole'.

& #BANNER1 & #A popular auto major internationally, Volkswagen had quite a few challenges in India at the time of its launch, chief amongst which were low brand awareness in India, a perceivably 'unpronounceable' name, and a fight with well established competing brands in the Indian market such as Tata Motors, Maruti and Hyundai (vying for the masses), and BMW and Mercedes in the luxury segment. However, Volkswagen wished to gain awareness in just a matter of weeks.

The challenge before the agency was simple: every day, on an average, a newspaper carries at least three car ads, with almost each one targeting Volkswagen's potential TG: the usual male, SEC A, aged 25-44 years, residing in a metro. This was not helped by the fact that this segment was bombarded with 14 car launches in 2009, causing more confusion and clutter. Research clearly showed that the consumer's average recall of what he reads in a newspaper - both ads and content - lasts, on an average, for 30 minutes. Couple the barrage of auto ads in print with the task of a relatively 'unheard of' international brand - and you have Volkswagen's dilemma recipe.

"Big is beautiful in this category, with every car going the aspirational way. The theory is 'dikhega toh bikega'," went the Mediacom presenter. To break the clutter in an unforgettable manner, Mediacom did a print innovation on November 11, 2009 - a roadblock on The Times of India, where all the ads belonged to one brand - Volkswagen.

About 76 lakh 'The TOI' readers across India woke up to a 'different' newspaper with only one advertiser. People talked, blogged, tweeted and uploaded Facebook status updates on it. By 10 am that day, according to Google Hot Trends, Volkswagen was the hottest searched item. "We extended the shelf life of our print advertising to three weeks as people discussed and debated over it till then - as opposed to the 30 minute recall of a regular print ad," said the Mediacom presenter.

As a result of this, 50 per cent recalled Volkswagen as compared to 11 per cent for brands that used a full page ad on the same day in other English dailies. Further, top of mind recall increased from 4 per cent to 38 per cent.

Another innovation by Mediacom was for the launch of the Volkswagen Polo, once again with the TOI. On an average, more than 40 advertisers advertise with TOI, out of which 20 are large spenders, many of which are heavy auto spenders.

The Polo was the most important launch for Volkswagen - 60cc and 100cc ads just didn't cut it. So, Mediacom cut something else - the newspaper itself! Just like the mint brand Polo which sports the tagline 'The mint with a hole', Volkswagen Polo went the 'newspaper with a hole' way.

On March 8, 2010, TOI readers saw their newspaper's pages cut out in the shape of a car. A distinct feature of the car was detailed on the pages with every cut out. The last page featured a full page ad of the car with the final message: 'We've put a lot into it. You'll get even more out of it', a tongue-in-cheek reference to both the features and the innovation.

The innovation was across 16 editions in 28 lakh copies. One innovation led to the sales of 5000 cars as 68 lakh potential consumers woke up to it. Further, Mediacom claims its return on investment was five times better than competition.

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