Friday, November 7, 2008

"The most important story of our time."

Okay, so I confess that I'm scratching my head over Volkswagen's new Routan Boom ad campaign, you know, the one where Brooke Shields informs us about a fertility boom caused by breeders in dire need of German engineering.

You can see the ad http://www.vw.com/routan/en/us/">here.

It's clever.  It's funny.  But it's weird.

Frankly, I'm uncomfortable with any ad campaign that promises to let us "witness the most important story of our time.  Ever."  (Check out the website, I'm telling you - this claim is front and center!)

Especially an ad campaign launched at this critical time in our history – and suggests people are having babies in order to buy a particular brand of car.

Pitching the Pitch
Just imagine how the agency pitched this idea to the folks at VW:

"The minivan is a car associated with breeders - and to make that point, we'll create a "documentary" on The Routan Boom - an explosion of babies being born to parents who have a hankering for the VW Routan.  Having babies now gives them license to buy into the breeders top choice for transport - the VW minivan!

"To hook people, we'll toss in phrases like "People have children as an excuse to get German engineering" because let's face it - it's a memorable phrase.

"Trust us - we know we'll find true success by linking an expensive purchase during a recession to the German engineering originated by Hitler's desire to develop a German family car.  People are always motivated to act when given powerful subconscious reminders of World War II. 

"To fully connect with our audience - people who intend to breed – we'll bring in Brooke Shields, a funny, beautiful actress who had a tough time getting pregnant – and who got into highly publicized pissing match with Tom Cruise over her use of anti-depressants when dealing with post-partum depression.

"It's got just the right zing needed to sell minivans!"

Creating Enduring Memories
You've got to hand it to Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the agency that created the campaign.  I have no idea how the pitch really went, but they did a phenomenal sales job.

And they've created an ad that is truly memorable.  

According to a story in Ad Age, the Routan ad was the most memorable new ad launched during the period from 9/15/08 - 10/12/08 - more than twice as memorable than the average new commercial screened at that time.

But I do wonder how effective it will be in selling Routan minivans, though right now, VW is doing well in comparison to other car manufacturers.  

This fall, when GM saw sales drop 45 percent from a year earlier, Volkswagen was able to prevent such a precipitous free fall, with sales for its cars dropping by less than 8 percent, according to Ad Age.

So who knows?  Maybe making a memorable ad is all that is needed to move product today.

Or maybe VW is able to capitalize on the brand it has built in the last few decades.

Or maybe consumers really do want to have babies just to buy a particular minivan, which if true, would be one of the most astonishing stories of our time.

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