Through nine videos based on the testimonial format of advertising, Volkswagen underscores its safety features.
It is India's worst kept secret - we have the world's most unsafe roads and the situation seems to be getting worse day by day. Over 400 people were killed in road accidents every day in 2015, government data reveals.
Taking a cue from the rising number of road mishaps, German auto giant Volkswagen (VW) has launched a digital ad campaign featuring nine ad films which highlight customers' testimonials.
"Language works as a catalyst to resonate and connect better with a diverse audience in India. It leads to a better understanding of the subject and builds a strong positive message for our audiences across regions," explains Basu.
Not only this, the brand continues to stay in constant touch with its customers through a wide dealership network. "We keep receiving many interesting experiences that they (our customers) share. It is on this basis that we approached a few people to contribute to this initiative," says Basu.
Owners of Volkswagen cars can also share their stories by visiting the Volkswagen web page and clicking on the 'My Volkswagen story' hyperlink.
Lately, communication in the auto segment appears to have swung from style to safety, with brands such as Chevrolet launching its ad campaign 'Drive with Care', and Maruti Suzuki releasing a series of ad films on road safety.
According to K V Sridhar, chief creative officer India, SapientNitro, consumers are not much convinced with advertising today, and the auto industry is more affected as the relationship with consumers is getting more transactional. Therefore, there's a desperate need to make an emotional connect. The trick is to be honest and less brand-centric.
Hari Krishnan, president, South, Lowe Lintas, says that the stories are authentic and could have the desired impact if the viewer is determined enough to sit through the poor quality of execution until the penny drops and the actual picture of the vehicle is shown. "While the intent is right in showcasing authentic stories based on true incidents, I don't understand why the execution has to be so poor," says Krishnan.
"In a day and age where so much video content is being consumed, it becomes a challenge for poorly made content to survive the duration. That the execution need not be poor even if the story is authentic and the treatment is candid is perfectly demonstrated by the Australian Road Safety Mission and its campaigns over the years. For me, the Volkswagen films would rank alongside Chevrolet, and probably a tad below Maruti's road safety campaign; but, collectively all of them are poor in execution. Poor quality of execution does not mean being more authentic. Better quality of execution with the right messaging could possibly ensure better attention from the viewer," he adds.
Pooja Gosain, creative director, DigitasLBi, says the ad films lack the messaging style and tonality of a brand like Volkswagen. "Some of the original Volkswagen GTI models are credited for starting the entire hot hatchback phenomenon. The brand conveys a balance of utility, as well as luxury, and in terms of driving dynamics, it has been able to set the bar high at a certain price point," says Gosain, adding, "Safety is a solid strategy to have, especially where our roads and highways are still not as desirable as we would like them to be. In this case, it could have been interesting to see safety and style together as they are both so intrinsic to the brand."
Talking about VW's advertising culture, she says that the brand has always had a strong heritage of communicating its cars' premium values, while bringing out their safety, utility, and convenience features. "It would have been fitting if the videos had incorporated more of the VW brand heritage, as that would have set them apart from initiatives by other brands, or any other standard safety videos that one often sees," says Gosain.