Volkswagen didn't have it easy in India and DDB Mudra presented exactly how difficult it was in its case study at the Effie 2010. The agency's work on Volkswagen has three shortlists (namely, 'Innovations for Everyone', 'Curves are Back', and 'German Engineering, Made in India') in the Consumer Durables - Automobiles and Auto Parts, Two Wheelers and Auto Related category - and the only other two entries in the category are for Bajaj Pulsar.
In fact, Volkswagen dominated the category so much that towards the third presentation, the Mudra spokesperson, Michael Follett, quipped to the audience, "We assure you, we have other clients as well!"
Volkswagen decided to focus on one value - innovation - and do it well rather than spread the focus, while innovation took care of the rest. To begin with, Mudra and VW wanted innovation in the message, which was done with the purchase of every ad in The Times of India at one point, with messages about how the car itself is innovative.
Further, media, too, was experimented with, with a cut out of a VW Polo shape across The Times of India (something the brand claims hasn't been done before across the world). About 42 lakh people saw it, while several others saw news clippings on TV or heard about it from others.
Next, VW innovated in terms of target audience - by targeting a female audience for the Beetle, a premium segment car, which turned out rather well. The Beetle, priced at Rs 22 lakh, is perceived to be beautiful, sexy and iconic by its users. However, the Indian car buyer is rational and sensible, and the 'iconic' car was facing a bit of a hurdle breaking into such a fixed mindset. So the solution was - to target a group ignored by car makers but which possesses great potential - women.
Follett went on to say that women in advertising are not seen as the decision makers; they are props or influencers at best. "But reality is, women are confident and not niche players, and can make their own financial decisions today," Follett said. As women like fashion and feel strongly about trend issues such as Size Zero, the Beetle wanted to talk to ladies in a language they understand, without using the stereotypical pink or bubblegum language.
The commercial for Beetle showed a lady seated at a five star restaurant, alone, as waiters serve her an elaborate meal. When asked if anyone shall be joining her, she declines, and proceeds to devour the food in an unabashed manner. 'Curves are Back. The new Beetle' went the super, showing the car shot alongside. "We got feedback that men didn't quite get this ad. We knew we were onto something!" Follett quipped.
Talking about the Polo campaign, Mudra had to tell the story of a delicate car to the buyer who drives on the 'much left to be desired' Indian roads. "India has progressed a lot, but the infrastructure and roads get left behind, as do many car parts on them," joked Follett. "Indian buyers need a rational reason to buy a car for such roads."
So the Polo was launched with the promise of German engineering but made 100 per cent in India. The Times of India innovation got the Polo to be a talking point about the marriage of German engineering and design with the 'Made in India' promise, whereas four TVCs addressed the scepticism of the Indian customer, inviting people to put the Polo to test. The commercials brought out four qualities of the car which make it suited for any kind of driving/road conditions. An online campaign ensued.
As claimed by the agency, the campaign generated 68,000 enquiries in 2.5 months, and there were 28,000 test drives and a far higher test drive-to-sale conversion rate (compared to Volkswagen or usual Indian norms). Currently, the Polo has a wait period of five months for prospective buyers.
For the record, the Effie Awards are organised by the Ad Club Bombay every year and honour campaigns on the basis of merit and how they have actually worked for the brand, and not just mere creativity.