VW continues to live up to its "Drivers Wanted" tagline. Most recently, however, it appears focused on planning for the future, planting the seeds of interest with, and on winning over, those who don’t yet have a license to operate a motor vehicle. As far as I can tell, it appears to be a smart move.
Probably my favorite VW television ads ran in 2006 and featured the quirky white-labcoat wearing automobile technician with a thick German accent, a guy famous for "un-pimping" over-the-top autos and rides, by destroying them in a variety of clever and sudden ways, all the while, exclaiming "Deutschland" or "Vee-Dahb" "in da House," and offering an awkward white-glove hand gesture to form the letters V-W as auditory references to "German engineers" were made:
Apparently, I’m not alone in being moved by these commercials, as this particular copy of the ad has been viewed on YouTube nearly 5 million times since being posted in 2006. To me, the ads were highly effective in reinforcing the strong idea of quality yet affordable German engineering in a very humorous way. To me and others, a perfect third car when the oldest child reaches driving age.
VW’s most recent television Punch-Dub campaign, I’ll have to admit, initially struck me as more than a little juvenile, but, as I’ll explain, without flinching, it is all starting to make enormous sense now (probably no surprise to those creatives behind the wheel at and for VW):
The genius of the "Punch-Dub" campaign, it seems to me, at least based on my personal and household experience, is the emotional interactivity and almost viral character or quality it has spawned. For weeks now, a day doesn’t go by, or I might say, a car ride with kids, doesn’t go by, without shoulders or other body parts being smacked while calling out "silver one," "red one," etc. Juvenile? Yes. Effective? Clearly. I have never noticed, observed or experienced such a consistent and long-standing reaction to or endorsement of an ad campaign, at least within my household. I fully appreciate it may very well be just a good excuse to release some pent up frustration among siblings, but, let’s not forget, all in the name of the VW brand, to the exclusion of every other car brand that has suddenly become invisible and/or irrelevant on the road to teens and tweens.
To confirm the brilliance of this campaign, I questioned my 13 year old son this evening, who confirmed that the game is only played with the VW brand. He also informed me that it is so popular among those in his grade at school, that those who ride the school bus recently had to be given seat assignments to counter the playing of the Punch-Dub game while riding the bus. Wow.
We almost have another driver in da house, months away in fact, and da wanna-be drivers in our house wanna VW. Kids think of it as a hip ride. Parents think about the safety, reliability, and affordability for a third vehicle. VW appears to have covered both groups whose opinions matter.
I’ll make sure to let you know if they get to drive one. Chances are probably better if the "Un-pimping Rides" campaign makes at least a brief return, since the wanna-be drivers don’t get da final say.
What am I missing about the brilliance of the Punch-Dub campaign, putting aside the unfortunate potential for contributory liability in the likely-to-be-filed-in-the-USA-class-action style personal injury and assault lawsuits?
Actually and seriously, let’s hope not.