Volkswagen‘s India entry and subsequent marketing campaigns over the past one year are case studies on how money can be used for marketing, especially when you seem to be carrying truckloads of it !!
The marketing brains at Volkswagen, apparently intend to deluge the market and create an impact in the consumer mindspace by adhering to only one mantra – ‘in-your-face‘
The campaigns that they are running are such that the consumer/viewer simply cannot ignore it. And no, it is not because of some creative scripts or funny TV commercials being employed. It is because Volkswagen believes in strongly capturing prime-time slots across media – be it the 7-10pm slot in TV channels, or the front pages of prominent newspapers. Let us take up three of these campaigns run by Volkswagen, see what was done and how effective they turned out to be:
1. The first-ever print road-block
A major newspaper roadblock had been unheard of in India, although TV roadblocks were gaining popularity (HUL, Vodafone etc). Volkswagen captured the entire TOI on November 11, 2009, with all the slots advertising one or the other of its Car brands – Jetta, Passat, Touareg. As per sources (on the web), VW spent close to Rs 8 Cr on this campaign. Obviously, capturing entire TOI editions advertising for a day can’t come cheap !
2. The first-ever talking newspaper
The readers of TOI and The Hindu in Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Pune and Chennai were in for a surprise on 21st September, 2010. As soon as the opened their favorite newspaper to read, they heard a mini-sized, pressure-activated device play a recorded message about the Volkswagen Vento. Reportedly, VW spent around Rs 5 Cr on this.
Watch a descriptive video of the same below:
3. The first-ever glossy newspaper frontpage
And on 29th August, they unveiled the glossy, super-shining silver coloured TOI frontpage which carried a full-size poster of the All New Volkswagen Jetta. Find below a picture of the same and tell me if it is at all possible to miss this ad?
While these are not the only advertisements VW has launched (they have launched several other, more innocuous advertisements, both on TV and print), these certainly were the ones which were meant to be attention-grabbers. These were the ones to create huge whizbangs, and boy, they did it in style !
(And interestingly, they used a medium nowadays seen as a passive, increasingly ineffective one to advertise in! They brought all the action and excitement back to newspapers)
In general, I am of the opinion that marketing approaches should not be driven by money. In my view, whenever marketers have a lot of advertising budget, they tend to leave their gray cells at home and merely do dumb things on which they throw money (Examples abound – VI JOHN casting SRK as brand ambassador (he has almost never ever been seen with a beard!), Luminous Inverters/Ujala signing Sachin Tendulkar, and many more).
So, when people have money, they tend to waste it by simply signing up the most popular star to do an ad for them in the most exotic of locales, irrespective of whether it makes brand sense or not! That’s why I don’t like if money is available aplenty to marketers – it takes away the will to be creative!
But, refreshingly, the people over at VW have put the ‘flood of dollars’ at their beck and call to good use. While they have spent in oodles, they have achieved the objective that they set out to meet – grab attention to brand Volkswagen, and make it stand out in a horde of auto players – Maruti, Hyundai, Honda, Fiat, Skoda, Chevrolet etc. They have been able to create a strong brand recall through the campaigns, and people do know the name clearly now. This was what they wanted to get – stand out amongst the crowd – and they got it done in huge flashbangs of advertising!
Let us see whether VW passes the ultimate test of performance to reign over Indian roads, in the way that it is reigning over the marketing tracts!