MarkLives.com – 17 April 2013
Humour is often used to great effect in advertising. The youth market is particularly open to a good laugh, and six years ago Opel raised eyebrows by making a series of wacky, crudely animated ads that focussed on the ‘fun’ aspects of owning a car. In fact, many of them didn’t even talk about the car – they were just silly, funny or weird.
The CorsaLite ads featured the ridiculous, absurd and wonderfully funny Raj Brothers, and the commercials that were produced over a decade ago still live on in our memories and YouTube because they were so distinctive and hilarious.
In the stuffy old days of advertising, car commercials were largely targeted at adults, and focussed strongly on benefits – like safety, fuel efficiency, power… the stuff that interests ‘Dad’. Fortunately advertisers came to their senses, and part of the big changes in automobile advertising was the idea that humour could feature in a car ad. Ten years ago the Raj Bros TV spots for CorsaLite were some of the most talked about ads of the time, because they were so unusual, and because they worked.
VW’s entry-level product, the Polo Vivo, is definitely aimed at the youth market, and although its sticker price is not the lowest on the market, ithas the VW brand and sleek looks that set it apart from its peers. And then there’s the commercial campaign. The idea central to thisclever and comedic campaign: “Wouldn’t it be awesome if the unlikely and improbable could come true? Well if Volkswagen can make Polo Vivos available for such a crazy price, then who knows what other crazy things might happen…”
This ad takes place in the world of students: university. A dreamy looking young man is falling asleep in a class – which looks a lot like Advanced Calculus, given the cryptic scrawling on the board. The professor announces that this is an unsolvable equation. Our hero is woken by the prof, and blurts out what is clearly a guess: “Eleven”.
This sets in motion a series of improbable events: a time machine is activated, a Russian Shuttle is launched, and our hero is applauded wherever he goes. Cut to him driving in his Polo, and it’s clear it’s all been a daydream (or has it?). Text on screen reads: “With Polo Vivo’s at R1599* p.m. anything is possible.”
It’s a little reminiscent of a teen movie: it has a feel-good factor, and it’s just wacky enough to stand up to repeated viewing. The hero is exceptionally well cast – a boy-next-door with a slightly ‘dof’ expression… but he’s very likeable – much like the VW brand.
The German automobile brand headquartered in Wolfsburg, Lower Saxony, Germany has always been smart when it comes to marketing and advertising. A big problem for Volkswagen of late was driving up its visibility in India. No problem, the brand ran print ads in newspapers that ‘talked’ and even descended a VW Vento from a massive skyscraper to introduce it to people in that country.
For me, the only niggle is the ‘hidden’ message. Most financial advisers will tell you that residual plans, or ‘balloon payments’ are not advisable, because you’re trading off a lower premium for a big settlement at the end of the lease period. In this case, after 5 years of payments, the purchaser will still owe over R53 000.
More recently those VW marketing gurus created a vibrating newspaper. When readers opened and started to read The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, or The Hindu a computer chip attached to the ad in the paper started vibrating. As the newspaper vibrated readers were enticed to ‘Feel the Shiver of Excitement’ and talked about new features available in the VW Polo and Vento.
Volkswagen (a German word that means ‘people’s car’) has been selected the world’s car of the year for four consecutive years now, while the brand is the biggest automobile manufacturer in Germany, and the second biggest in the world. What this shows is that the combination of product excellence, a strongly differentiated brand, innovation and clever advertising really does benefit the bottom line.
But let’s get back to that local VW campaign. On Facebook, the Volkswagen South Africa page has created “The Vivo Gallery of Anything’s Possible”, which has some amazing video clips – including music played with a Tesla Coil, a man fitted with a bionic eye, a man who can draw any landscape from memory after seeing it just once, and a blind skateboarder.
‘Share’ icons for both Facebook and Twitter, will drive others to the site, where they can also be exposed to the selling proposition. It’s a good implementation of social media integration, as it plugs into the curiosity factor of the target audience: it’s an easy ‘share’.
For me, the only niggle is the ‘hidden’ message. Most financial advisers will tell you that residual plans, or ‘balloon payments’ are not advisable, because you’re trading off a lower premium for a big settlement at the end of the lease period. In this case, after 5 years of payments, the purchaser will still owe over R53 000. If the purchaser wants to trade the car in before this, he’ll probably find that he owes more than the car is worth. For a young adult who may be struggling to pay off a student loan, wanting to buy a house or start a family, this is not a good situation. So caveat emptor, as they say… let’s hope these ‘young aspirationals’ get good advice and make sure they really can afford the shiny new thing.
Financing quibbles aside, the ad is strongly storied, loads of fun, tells an open story the begs for imaginative involvement, is beautifully executed and destined to be the kind of ad that people talked about or love. Kudos VW (and agency Ogilvy Cape Town)!