Ja, das ist gut: VW brings the weather with it, reaps rewards from more localised approach

Not too long ago, Volkswagen was seen by Kiwis as a brand that was too expensive, too Germanic and too standoffish. So the European car maker set about changing that and, with the help of DDB NZ, it’s been making some serious inroads into the Kiwi market, with the 2011 results achieving records for both its passenger and commercial vehicles. Now the pair are hoping to continue the upward trajectory with a new series of ‘the same, but different’ TVCs running in the pre-weather spot on ONE News.

Youtube Video

Youtube Video

Youtube Video

Youtube VideoWhen Volkswagen, which recently announced the appointment of ex-Hyundai man Tom Ruddenklau as general manager, came to DDB and said it was looking at weather sponsorship involving a 15 second television spot every day of the year, DDB’s group business director Scott Wallace says it was a massive challenge.

“You can’t run one ad 365 days of the year because people will tire of that so quickly. So we came up with a series of five 15 second commercials which are from the same mould as ‘Milk Run’,” he says.

Youtube VideoLike that great ad, which was shot by Robber’s Dog, the latest TVCs carry a version of ‘the same, but different’ tagline and use a touch of humour to once again show regular Kiwis doing the same thing (shopping, towing, getting clothing caught in car doors without noticing, forgetting you left something on the roof of your car), but each in a different Volkswagen car. And, to tie in with its weather spot, each TVC ends with the Volkswagen logo dissolving by way of a wind, rain or a sunshine effect.

Wallace says the primetime weather spot is a “valuable property”.

“It’s one of those placements where hundreds of thousands of people are seeing it every night and it has lifted the brand’s profile to another level.”

Each ad will run in rotation, on a fortnightly basis, and the campaign will be revaluated mid-year with the possibility of creating further ads.

The campaign launched on the back of Volkswagen’s 2011 sales figures, which show the brand certainly seems to be gaining traction in New Zealand.

The figures, published by LTNZ, show passenger sales reached 2460 (up 26 percent year on year), with commercial sales reaching 869 (up 216 percent).

The brand, which signed on as a sponsor of the All Whites just before the FIFA World Cup, is now ranked tenth in the car market, just behind Honda and Nissan. Toyota still holds out strong in first place, followed by Holden in second and Hyundai in third.

Wallace says the sales results speak for themselves and the brand is “definitely on the move”.

“We do some tracking research and are monitoring on a regular basis how people are feeling about the brand,” he says. “We know they’ve seen it, they like watching the ads, and they’re getting the right messaging from it all.”

When DDB first took the Volkswagen brand to the Kiwi market, it certainly wasn’t without its challenges. So to get it right, the agency embarked on a qualitative study and a much larger quantitative study.

The brand was selling a reasonable number of cars and sales were growing year on year, but “we didn’t know why people were buying Volkswagen cars, and more importantly, why they weren’t,” comments Wallace.

While people had fond associations with the brand, Wallace says many found it to be “too Germanic” and “standoffish”.

“As a result of that research, for the first time we went about engineering our own local advertising communication programme for Volkswagen,” he says,

The research also revealed many thought Volkswagen vehicles to be out of their price range, both to purchase and in terms of ongoing servicing costs.

Volkswagen realigned its prices and this, coupled with the strength of the Kiwi dollar and the weakness of Euro, resulted in prices coming down a few notches. DDB went about showing this affordability via its ‘Wedding’ and ‘Hairdresser’ TVCs, as well as a recent retail ad featuring a confused billboard installer.

“Essentially over the past few years what we’ve tried to do is become 150 percent Kiwi and more ‘everyday’ than you’d maybe expect from a luxury car,” says Wallace. “We really fixate on making sure everything we do really touches New Zealanders and shows that Volkswagen understands Kiwis better than other European brands.”

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