afaqs!

Volkswagen - And then they burned my hair

By Anushree Bhattacharyya, Devina Joshi and Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, New Delhi and Mumbai | In Advertising | February 07, 2011
German car manufacturer Volkswagen sustained its innovative approach that began in 2009.

German car manufacturer Volkswagen sustained its innovative approach that began in 2009. It followed up its print roadblock (November 2009, where all the ads in a The Times of India edition belonged to the brand alone) and OOH innovations (remember the mechanical billboard with the manufacturer's logo and a small model car of the Beetle moving across the length and breadth of the Volkswagen sign?) with three new launches and an 'Innovations for Everyone' campaign. After the Passat and Jetta, it was the turn of Polo, Vento and Phaeton to drive out on Indian roads. And the carmaker married its communication and the launches with typical German thoroughness.

Parenting

Innovations for Everyone was an ad campaign that Volkswagen initiated in August. It figured as part of the second phase of Volkswagen's branding process. The communication coincided with the market launches of the New Beetle and Touareg. The second phase of the ad campaign was an aggressive effort on part of Volkswagen to make a firm corporate branding statement. The main objective of the campaign was to emphasise on a more central positioning of the mother brand and not highlighting each individual product under this umbrella.

The brand didn't entirely miss out on highlighting individual products. The campaign, fleetingly, stressed on the USP of each of Volkswagen's six cars present in the Indian market. Special features such as Bi-Xenon Cornering headlamps (Phaeton), DSG gearbox (Touareg), TSI technology (Passat), iconic design (Beetle), electronic stabilisation programme (Jetta) and lastly, the fuel-efficient engine (Polo) were highlighted. The Vento was launched a few months after this campaign first broke. The campaign also deliberately moved from high-end features (such as fancy headlights) to something as basic as fuel efficiency. This was an effort to stress on the fact that the brand has something to offer for all segments of society, right from the affluent crowd out to the lower end majority seeking value for money above all else.

Volkswagen also launched an interactive website, www.innovationsforeveryone.com, as part of this campaign. It reinstated the brand's efforts of making people the core of the movement. In the digital space, Bluetooth technology was used to create interaction with consumers- people could download information about the brand and reach the Internet page via this technology. The TG comprised the young and progressive urbanite, as well as the new-age, middle class, individuals falling within the age bracket of 25-44 years. The media activities of the campaign were concentrated in areas populated with the brand's dealers.

Quite exciting

While the effect of the launch of the Phaeton was felt very briefly, the launches of the Polo and Vento created waves with consumers on the advertising front. Both were big on TV as well as in the OOH space.

For the launch of the Polo - its first hatchback in the Indian market in March - Volkswagen innovated and how! A Polo-shaped hole, a play on car's minty namesake, was made in the TOI (see Big Noise Campaigns). Group M's Dialect (brand solutions division) also conducted a consumer engagement event, 'The New Polo Ultimate Test Drive'.

The launch of Volkswagen's entry-level sedan, Vento, took a whole new stand. The TVC positioned it as a car that was crafted with so much love and passion that the makers back in the factory found it hard to part with it even though it was ready for sale. An OOH campaign, Tears of Perfection, extended the Vento's positioning.

Says Neeraj Garg, board member and director, Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Volkswagen Group Sales, India, "During January-November 2009, we sold 2,638 cars in India. The figure soared to 26,855 for the same period in 2010. This growth in sales was accompanied by growth in our dealership network in India. On January 1, 2009 we had 14 operational dealerships. On January 1, 2010 we had 40 and as of December 1, 2010 we had 61 dealerships. The growth rate was around one new dealership every two weeks," Garg shares. He adds that though the Beetle and Touareg were launched in 2009, it was only in 2010 that sales began in a big way. "Thus, in effect, this year saw the Indian launches of five VW cars - Polo, Vento, Phaeton, Beetle and Touareg. 2009 was more about selling the Jetta and Passat."

To read about other exciting brands, click here.