In the 2006 Initial Quality Study from J. D. Power and Associates, only Isuzu (191) and Land Rover (204) ranked lower than Volkswagen that was tied with Hummer at 171 in problems per 100 vehicles.

For comparison, Porsche, also made in Germany, and fully “pimped” straight from the factory, had 91 and Lexus 93.

Hyundai, which not too long ago, was at the bottom of quality surveys, implemented an amazing 10 year warranty a few years back, and now only has 102 problems per 100. Toyota, long known for quality came in with 106.

There is an adage that great advertising will kill a bad product faster than bad advertising will kill a great product, and with VW hiring the brand magicians at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, is VW committing suicide?

Crispin did wonders with the Mini (which had 150 problems per 100) but abandoned the brand (spending about $35 million a year) for VW (spending $330 million a year) when the Mini brand manager moved to VW.

So far, interest and sales of VW are on the upswing, as is a quality move within VW, but could the answer be partially in VW’s hands - offer a bulletproof warranty and have VW take responsibility for what they build?

VW Rabbit- Multiply ad freeze frameOne of the beautiful things about Crispin is that they are willing to go outside the traditional confines of what an ad agency is “supposed to do” and offer sound business advice. Some in the auto business laughed at Crispin rebranding the VW Golf back to it’s original “VW Rabbit” badge. Considering that neither econobox sold as well as the Bug- which was known for its quality, dependability and value- qualities that have escaped VW since the Bug’s departure from the line up.

Note: if you click on the frame- you will get a pop up window to the spot.
The song is “The Birds and the Bees” By Patrick and Eugene.
You can visit the iTunes store for this album by clicking this link: Postcard from Summerisle and the catchy lyrics are:

The sky is perfect blue
No clouds could spoil the view
It’s a sign from above
That shows that we’re in love
All the birds and the bees
Are flying in the trees
The sun is in the sky
Just for you and I

the VW site promises to tell you this stuff- but they don’t have the spot loaded yet.

Consumers already have a bullshit detector when it comes to advertising- and with VW’s reputation for quality in tatters, the current crop of entertaining ads are a solid attempt to bring back some of the love for early VW advertising- with it’s self-deprecating cheekiness.

The big question will be answered next year, when JD Power rankings come out, and VW will learn if the cost of selling more cars is an even worse ranking- or a huge move up in perceived quality thanks to actual better quality- and a halo effect from good advertising.

What do you think?