Volkswagen: Polo's Power Play

By Saumya Tewari , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | December 03, 2014
Volkswagen launches a three-film campaign to promote the recently revamped Polo. The brand promotes its new engine through the catchphrase, 'Power, when you need it!' Is the campaign powerful enough, though?

German auto major Volkswagen gave Polo, its premium mid-sized hatchback, a facelift this July. Never mind the cosmetic tweaks like the new front grille, steering wheel, alloy wheels, multimedia console, steering-mounted controls and dual-beam headlamps with cornering lights; the feature the brand has picked to show off in its latest mass media ad campaign is the real stuff hidden under the hood - its powerful engine (1.5L TDI for all you auto geeks out there).

Volkswagen TVC

Volkswagen TVC

Volkswagen TVC

The print campaign

The three-film campaign ('Facebook', 'Anniversary' and 'Movies') created by DDB Mudra demonstrates how the Polo's powerful new engine helps people zoom their way out of sticky situations. The message is - 'Power, when you need it'. To the brand team, this new stance is like an extension of Polo's erstwhile "sporty and powerful identity."

The print campaign

Rahul Mathew

The films are targeted at young men and women in the 25 to 35 years age bracket, in metros and mini-metros. This is a salaried TG, comprising mid-management executives working in global organisations, and self-employed professionals, who belong to double income families with four to five members.

Volkswagen notes that today over 50 per cent of the brand's core TG owns more than one vehicle. "Polo is an 'additional vehicle' in many households," says the team.

For this TG, a "powerful engine response" is one of the key parameters for shortlisting a car, finds Volkswagen. The team attributes this to easy access to the internet, oftentimes through the mobile device, and an overall increase in both, the degree of tech-awareness and importance placed on intangibles like brand value.

"The Indian consumer is price sensitive, but at the same time he/she is becoming more and more quality conscious and seeks the value-for-money deal," says the brand team.

For Volkswagen, the biggest marketing challenge in the Indian market is to continue being relevant to the Indian consumer, despite its limited portfolio of models. This challenge is furthered each time a rival brand launches a new variant.

The media mix that has worked for the brand in the past includes a combination of TV, print and digital (search and social). Communication across these media platforms, learns afaqs!, helps generate an immediate response in the form of customer inquiries and walk-ins at the dealership level. Radio and outdoor are typically exploited as reminder mediums.

Volkswagen launched Polo in India five years back. It competes with brands like Hyundai i20, Ford Figo and Maruti Swift.

In the words of Rahul Mathew, creative head, DDB Mudra West, "Power, in a city car, is all about adding haste to your actions when you need it the most," something the brand promises in all three films, through what he calls "regular human stories," as opposed to "incredulous car chases."

Powerful Enough?

Amod Dani

Akshay Chaturvedi

Amod Dani, executive creative director, Publicis India, appreciates the "quirky" execution.

The ads, he feels, lend an interesting take on the power and the speed of the Polo. "Timing is everything. And Volkswagen's take on the importance of reacting quickly when required, is nicely depicted through these moments. The Pizza film in particular is all about timing," he notes, adding that the stories are "real and relatable."

Dani prefers the Anniversary film though, as the product shots come in sooner; in the other two films, they appear right at the end. "In the Pizza film," he points out, nevertheless, "the jump-cut to the multiplex makes it interesting."

Akshay Chaturvedi, business head,, finds the campaign "refreshing." The slice-of-life moments, he predicts, will find an instant connect with the TG.

Speaking on the market for Polo in India, Chaturvedi explains, that though it is more expensive than its competitors, it is one of the "safer" cars in its segment. He also makes special mention of its superior "ride quality".

However, he points out that the company's after sales service is quite the pain point in India, "a major drawback for the value-conscious Indian consumer." He insists it is this aspect that has "cast a shadow on Polo's sales, especially when compared to Maruti Swift or Hyundai i20."

"So while this campaign will certainly help build/consolidate favourable imagery for Polo, the company needs to handle other issues," he cautions, acknowledging that the product's aggressive pricing (Rs. 4.99 lakh) is a good starting point.

As far as his take on the communication aspect goes, he feels an ad campaign dedicated entirely to the promise of "service availability on a pan India level" will do the brand some much needed good. "A campaign that goes beyond showcasing technological superiority and product features may be helpful in boosting sales for Volkswagen in India," suggests Chaturvedi.

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