VW gives Toyota a friendly buggering

Comparative advertising is fairly rare, perhaps because brands don’t want to be perceived as being negative or due to the potential for legal action from competitors. And comparative advertising that references an ad from a competitor is rarer still. But VW and Colenso BBDO have done just that in a cheeky print execution that aims to spell out the reasons why the Amarok is a better option than the Hilux. 

Toyota’s advertising has helped it become the dominant car brand in the country, and the Hilux has been the nation’s top selling ute since ages ago, but now it’s got some pretty stiff competition on its hands, with the Ford Ranger looking like it could take the title this year, Holden Colorado selling well and VW’s Amarok also on the improve.

Toyota’s Bugger ad from 1999, which was a follow-up from the classic Crumpy and Scotty campaign for the Hilux, was one of the best and has become a Kiwi favourite. It was also moderately controversial, but after 120 complaints to the ASA, the powers that be decided the use of the swearword wasn’t in breach of the standards and was unlikely to cause serious offence. Now VW has used the word that’s inextricably linked with Toyota to try and get Kiwis to reconsider their ute loyalty. 

VW is renowned for its simple, clever and effective print advertising, with early classics like Lemon and Think Small and modern classics like the Cannes-winning Park Assist campaign from DDB Sydney. And this ad fits the bill. 

VW parted ways with its long-time agency DDB last year and shifted across to Colenso BBDO, which recently released its first major piece of work, a crowd-sourced campaign called The People’s Film

Tom Ruddenklau, general manager of Volkswagen, said at the time it wanted to get a bit closer to Kiwis, get them to tell their story, show that Volkswagen has been a part of the country’s history and “prove that it’s as relevant today as it was yesterday”.

“As a European brand, if you are not careful you can easily be seen as too premium and out of reach … The project was a leap of faith that our customers could tell the story, as opposed to creating/crafting it ourselves.”

As for Toyota, it has also been pushing the Hilux with a continuation of the Tougher than you Can Imagine campaign that saw one of the characters move into meteorology as part of a sponsorship with One News. 

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