Volkswagen Ad … The Secrets to Its Effectiveness?

Is it a secret? Probably not. But it seems like a hidden truth. Under wraps until the Volkswagen ad.
Or camouflaged. Certainly, something we can learn from, however.
volkswagen ad
Volkswagen advertisement.
The secret of all effective advertising is not the creation of new and tricky words and pictures. It is one of putting familiar words and pictures into new relationships.
–      Leo Burnett
Have you seen the recent Volkswagen safety commercial? Let’s examine this commercial and what contributes to its strengths and weaknesses.  And its ability to influence or persuade.
Check out our thoughts on creative marketing.
Marketing or advertising, you need to create information that your customers find interesting and worth talking about. Talking about and remembering. This advertisement certainly achieves this goal, don’t you think?

Volkswagen advertising strategy

Let’s evaluate other keys to effective marketing strategy in this advertisement:


Volkswagen ad … be relevant to your target market

Keep in mind that one message does not fit all. It starts with knowing your target market. Here the target market is families with young children and people with a high focus on car safety. Certainly relevant to this market, don’t you think?


Volkswagen commercial grandma … define your positioning … your frame of reference.

Make comparisons to your competitors if you can. Volkswagen certainly knows who its major competitors are. However, it chooses not to take them on in this commercial. A good move we believe.


Grab and hold viewers’ attention

Do this with interesting information.  Keep in mind that people don’t watch ads, they watch what interests them.
Your ad messages must be interesting to your target communities. This message certainly grabs and holds attention based on simple emotion.


Volkswagen think small ad
Volkswagen think small ad.

Define a value proposition

A value proposition that truly discriminates you from your competition. Give your customers reasons to select you.
Maybe not the most significant visible feature, it does illustrate Volkswagen as a company that puts a high priority on passenger safety. This is their clear objective, isn’t it?






Make your messages simple

Ones that the reader will quickly understand. Keep in mind that pictures are far more valuable than words. Creating customer emotion does get any simpler than this, does it?
Any effective marketing campaign will only work if it focuses on a single message. This is true whether it’s a series of Web videos, direct emails, magazine display ads, banner ads, outdoor billboards, television and radio spots,
At the heart of all advertising is the promise you commit to delivering to your clients. No matter how clever or memorable your marketing, if you fail to deliver on that promise, you will fail.
Learn a lesson from the politicians. The general publics’ opinion of politicians is about on a par with having a prostate exam.
Politicians can’t help themselves. They promise the electorate what the electorate wants to hear, and then fail to deliver on promises that can never be kept.
Consequently, people become cynical and distrust everything politicians say.
Failure to deliver on your promise to be the cheapest, the best, or the guy with the most features, is like a politician promising no new taxes. Read my lips! Those kinds of promises are a prescription for a marketing disaster.
Taking the conceptual approach requires a certain degree of confidence. It requires an understanding that you are going to have to give something up to get something in return.
Do you you present your identity as the Timex of widgets, inexpensive and ubiquitous? If so, then you are giving up the audience looking for the Rolex of widgets, expensive and exclusive.
This list could go on, but I’ll end with one last powerful principle that is useful in reshaping opinions. It is useful for getting people to rethink brands or categories. It is one of the best reasons to invest $5 million in a Super Bowl ad in the first place.
In early 2011, selling an American car was a tough ask. Most people still associated Detroit and American automakers with failure and bailouts.
The principle of “two-sided messaging” was brilliantly used in Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit”(No. 13). We are more likely to engage with a message that fits with what we already believe.
If someone feels negatively toward a brand, they’ll be resistant to hearing a direct, positive message. By first acknowledging a few of its flaws, they’ll be more open to changing how they feel and what they believe.
The Chrysler spot tells us that, yes, Detroit has been through some tough times. But it’s also strong, resilient and knows a thing or two about art and culture and luxury. By validating the viewers’ impressions of Detroit and, by reflection, Chrysler, the brand was able to turn “Imported from Detroit” into a “hell yes!” rally cry. A cry for the Motor City that everyone felt proud to get behind.
Whether or not any of these ads were developed with the conscious use of behavioral science, it’s clear to see that when ads work the way our brains work, they capture our attention.
And that usually means that make a lasting impact. Think how much further ahead you can be if you start your ideation with behavioral science in mind.


Consider the end state values to your customers 

End states that customers and particularly the target customers are looking for in new safety features. No reason to buy without these.
The marketing strategy certainly is addressing this end state in our opinion. The commercial does not address any specific safety features or why the Jetta is the best. A weakness we believe.


Influence and persuasion

There are no better means of influence or persuasion than emotion. Hands down the best, in our opinion.
This commercial focuses on emotional appeal in grand fashion. It is the secret of this commercial’s success.
Remember, it is not what advertising does with the consumer; it is what the consumer does after viewing the advertisement.



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 After looking over these enablers, we believe Volkswagen has created a very effective commercial. What do you think?
What are some of your experiences with advertising as a component of an integrated marketing campaign?
 Need some help in capturing more customers from your advertising? Creative ideas to help the differentiation with your customers?
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Do you have a lesson about making your innovation better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?
Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he writes about topics that relate to improving the performance of business. Go to Amazon to obtain a copy of his latest book, Exploring New Age Marketing. It focuses on using the best examples to teach new age marketing … lots to learn. Find them on G+Twitter, and LinkedIn.  
 Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change.  We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.
More reading on advertising from Digital Spark Marketing’s Library:
 What to Expect from a Creative Advertising Strategy
Creative Secrets from Budweiser Advertising Examples
Prudential Ad Makes Visualization Design Central to Story
Ten Deadly Sins of Advertising Design
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Volkswagen Ad … The Secrets to Its Effectiveness?