VW Launches New Ad Campaign
April 3, 2008
VW's new spokesperson Max, a 1964 Beetle, as seen on the automaker's website
Volkswagen is hoping a talking 1964 Beetle named Max will help the automaker better connect with its customers.
Max is part of a new advertising campaign, launched yesterday, called Das Auto — which translates from German to English as the car. The campaign involves extensive targeted television, print and online advertising, plus integration into social media channels.
Max has talk-show-style conversations with celebrities like supermodel Heidi Klum, actor David Hasselhoff, Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy, astronaut Richard Searfoss, among other lesser-knowns. They discuss, of course, VW.
"Volkswagen has always occupied a unique and positive place in both American car culture and American popular culture," said Tim Ellis, Volkswagen Of America's new vice-president of marketing. "And the brand is as relevant today as it has ever been. Max personifies Volkswagen's past, present and vision for the future. Through him, we will reconnect with American consumers and let them know how Volkswagen understands and responds to what the people want."
Ads will begin running this month — in major daily newspapers, on VW's website and on TV.
New Volkswagens that Max will help introduce this year include the Tiguan SUV, Routan minivan, Passat CC luxury sedan, diesel Jetta and Jetta SportWagen.
At best, this new advertising campaign will reinvigorate the brand in the United States.
At worst, it will show just how out-of-touch VW has become with its American customers.
Normally, VolksWatch doesn't editorialize in news stories but here we go: The use of any talking inanimate object frightens us. We believe VW needs to shed some of the bizarre marketing gimmickry it's been using lately — including the GTI's hideous Fast monster — and get back to basics. Focus on the actual cars. This is what Das Auto should be all about. This is what we were hoping it would be all about.
Max is just adding to the clutter that we're all trying to cut through in this media-saturated age.
Had this been announced a day earlier, most would have dismissed it as an unfunny April Fool's joke.
VW's display at the Detroit auto show earlier this year. Click on image for larger view.