Volkswagen creates tremor in print

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | September 12, 2012
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As part of a campaign to promote the new features in the Polo and Vento, Volkswagen rolled out yet another audible print innovation yesterday.

The Times of India, The Hindu and The Hindustan Times readers felt a buzzing sensation in their fingers and heard the vroom of a fast car as they unfolded yesterday's (September 11, 2012) newspaper. The accompanying visual was that of the words 'Feel the shiver of excitement?' on the front page cover. This was a part Volkswagen's print innovation for its brands, Polo and Vento.




The buzzing effect was created with the help of special 'light-sensitive, vibrating chips' that were attached to the last page of all the papers. When opened, the tactile buzz and audio vroom of the pages generated an experiential platform for Volkswagen to convey to its consumers the shiver of excitement -- both literally and figuratively -- they're likely to experience when they see the new features in the Polo and Vento. When the paper was closed, the vibration automatically stopped.

Lutz Kothe, head, marketing and PR, Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Volkswagen Group Sales, India, says, "Innovation has always been at the core of our communication. Through this innovation, we have not only communicated the unique processes that go into making a Volkswagen but also the new features added to the Polo and the Vento."

Two whole pages of the four-page jacket were devoted to bringing alive the innovations and processes that go into making Volkswagen cars. The fourth page of the jacket communicated the value that the Polo and Vento offer to their users.

Scale and Reach

The innovation was experienced by consumers in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Pune. The innovation was carried in The Times of India in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Pune; in The Hindustan Times in Delhi; and in The Hindu in Chennai.

In all, the innovation was done in 22.9 lakh newspaper copies. Since one chip was inserted per copy, 22.9 lakh chips were used in all. Of these, 2.58 lakh were in The Hindu, 3.41 lakh were in The Hindustan Times and the rest (that is, the majority) were used in The Times of India.

Debraj Tripathy, managing director, MediaCom, the brand's media agency, tells afaqs! that the estimated readership target was to reach 36 lakh people. "Effectively speaking, we've reached our target because one cannot help but notice the innovation," he reasons.

The chips were sourced from China and it took around three months to source all of them, and a week to insert them into the newspapers.

A drive down print-ville

The German auto major is no stranger to such print innovations. Besides its aggressive roadblock ads around its launch in the country, the brand has displayed its share of innovative print communication as well. In 2009, Volkswagen made tyre impressions on The Times of India. In March 2010, to popularise the then newly-launched Polo, Volkswagen cut out a portion in the top of every 16 pages of the special edition of The Times of India in the shape of the car. Later that year, the parent brand created buzz with its 'Talking Newspaper' campaign to mark the launch of the Vento. For this, the creative was a full page ad of the Vento in copies of The Times of India and The Hindu, on which a small, black box was stuck -- this provided the 'voice' of the advertisement. As the newspaper was unfolded, readers could hear a recorded message about the sedan. The chips used in the black box were also light-sensitive ones; and the message would turn off automatically when the paper was folded back, just like in the case of the current vibrating chips.

Last year, something similar was done for the Jetta. Readers of The Times of India's Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and Bengaluru editions, and The Hindu's Chennai edition woke up to an innovation called 'Silver Newspaper'. It was so called as it involved the use of extremely shiny newspaper that was thicker than their regular paper and gave a near metallic feel to the sheets.

Lutz Kothe

Debraj Tripathy

Well, come to think of it, from an innovation perspective, isn't moving from a newspaper that talks to one that merely vibrates, a step down? "Innovations are done for two reasons -- to enhance the brand's basic proposition and attract attention. Both, the talking paper and the current shivering one fulfil these goals. I view each innovation as one that is done as a specific task and for a particular purpose, not as a step up or down from the previous innovation. People are noticing and reacting to the vibrating paper; it has generated buzz," Tripathy answers.

Volkswagen's value pillars

According to Rajiv Sabnis, president, DDB Mudra Group Mumbai, the brand's creative agency, the 'shivering newspaper' idea and the content in the four page pull-out advertisement demonstrates the three value pillars of Volkswagen, namely, innovation, responsibility and value.

"The advertisement is led by the innovative idea of a shivering newspaper, supported by the responsibility with which Volkswagen manufactures its cars and the value that the Vento and Polo offer with their new features," he explains.

The creative agency views this effort as a strategic step towards influencing a fundamental shift in the car buying behaviour of Indians.

Besides this print campaign, Volkswagen has also unveiled its latest television commercial for Polo and Vento to communicate the new features of both cars.

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