advertising and other stuff. no, really.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Because I don’t cover account wins
and losses...

Well, almost never. So VW said it’s looking for the next a new agency to replace Crispin, which got me thinking: I come to praise Crispin, not to bury them.

From the announcement by VW:

“The Volkswagen brand needs to inspire our base of enthusiasts as well as reach out and captivate those in mainstream America.”


Having owned two Jettas after owning everything Detroit made, I was aware that there was always something about owning a VW. Something a little different than other cars.

Why should a soccer mom now need to make the brand “her own,” like every other commodity in her Costco going, 12-pack of Doritos buying, McDonald’s chompin’ life. I can only guess what the watered-down messaging will look like.

That audience’s idea of something different is a PT Cruiser anyway.

(I’ll go as far as saying VW could take the Apple approach, and be even more understated than Drivers Wanted. Simple. Basic. Direct. We’re VW—you’re not. Otherwise, I’m telling you right now, VW will lose it’s identity by going wide and generic.)

Then there’s this from Crispin:

“As a rule, we do not participate in reviews for current account and this will not be an exception.”

Good for them. Or any agency with that attitude.

Brand-client relationships are important, but I never liked the client who’d rather switch agencies than go back to the incumbent and give them a chance to try a new approach. But oh, by the way, they’ll come back and ask them to participate in a new pitch against others?

Go f... find yourself a new agency then.

Another issue raised by many of the anonymous heroes on AdWeek is the idea that Crispin’s branding failed. I’d say they did something a little different though: They gave each of the cars a personality.

Having recently been on the hunt for a new car (and looking at VW), no amount of advertising masquerading as “branding” was ever going to influence my final decision, no matter what car it was. And I saw almost all of them.

I actually think Hyundai’s Think About It campaign was one of the nicest changes in the automotive category this past year, but the test drive never lived up to the hype for me.

Nice extended warranty though.

Point is, there’s this attitude that blames an agency for not creating or pushing an overall brand promise, let alone one that sells product. That’s as bad as the mindset that believes great advertising can help sell anything, regardless of what Lutz believes.

Look around, even Toyota’s sales slumped this year. If you need to give an agency flak for a body of work you don’t like, fine. At least be honest enough to recognize some of the other factors affecting the automotive industry beyond any issues over its advertising practices.

And that wasn’t VW I saw in DC with their hand out either. Good luck GM—you’ll need it.

Right now, the only thing working across the board for a short-term bump is a government-backed rebate program masquerading as a stimulus package Cash For Clunkers. Forget ads, $4,500 makes a nice incentive for anyone to buy.

Tags not wanted.

Not just with VW either, but I don’t get why so many people need to have a tagline that doubles as the central brand message encompassing everything. It’s a brave new world kids, just let go of the little fella, it’s okay, really.

Instead, shouldn’t ads and agencies give you great moments to think about?

I know the DDB plow spot is classic. So too, this awesome print ad, or Safe Happens mentioned by more than a few people, including your blogger friend forever, moi.

But the coolest spot I ever saw in my adult car buying life was the one above: Slash playing that damn VW.

Rock. Love. Cars. What else is there? The joy of driving without even showing... the car driving. Isn’t that the “promise” of the classic Arnold work everyone is going off on?

None of Detroit’s Big Three gave me a moment like that.

Engineer Stomare tapped into something about tuner culture before the talking VW did his Dieter kink. And honestly? I’ve seen a lot of auto porn with shiny happy family moments so fake I could puke, but the family with the kid and the slingshot?

That was good enough to be a Bud spot. Or the spilled drink in the Routan; a nice spin on the same theme.

Finally, just make sure you give Fahrvergnügen as much shit as you give Brook Shields.

Jetpacks has some additional thoughts worth reading on the whole thing, and he’s also offering his copywriting services for the new campaign. Art directors wanted, too.

Think I’ll apply. Right after I watch Slash again.

1 comment:

phillybikeboy said...

You and Jetpacks make some good points. Part of the problem is the message, and part is the product.

Right now, the VW difference is a bit too subtle to sell in a difficult market. The mystery is why they don't play to their Right now, two of the better performance cars on the market are also green. The GT TDI Scirocco and TDI Jetta. They don't even offer the Scirocco in the US, and the marketing for the TDI Jetta is nonexistent. Can someone please tell my why?

There are a substantial number of drivers who would love to go greener, but can abide the smug, wimpy earthchild vibe of what's out there. The whole Prius campaign leads me to believe the car comes with ovaries, a Joan Baez CD and patchouli-stank new car smell. Worse yet, the Prius' green credentials are suspect.

Surely there's a market for people who want to save the plaent for their children without having to sacrifice their inner child. Going green doesn't have to mean going pink. There is a substantial untapped market that Volkswagen has the cars to fill....if only they'd sell them to us.