VW: a brand still searching for a voice

Crispin Porter + Bogusky knows how to do car advertising; the Mini launch proved it. Then they “moved up” to work with VW when their patron at Mini moved to VW. However, Kerri Martin didn’t last very long at VW as the marketing chief, and neither will Crispin until VW gets someone at the top that understands the CP+B methodology- and VW actually learns how to deliver true “German Engineering.”

These two spots are a brilliant move, trotting out the old Beetle, to get the brand back to it’s roots: affordable, reliable, quality. However, with the dollar tanking and VW really struggling to make it out of the basement of JD Power surveys, CB+P is fighting an steep uphill battle.

Supermodel Heidi Klum interviewing a 1964 black Beetle that turns red when she says German engineering is so sexy. Heidi is impressed that every VW now comes with ABS and traction control standard. Talk show format, ending with a title slide: Das Auto- which means “the auto.”

Former Indiana hoops coach Bob Knight interviewing the classic Beetle- talking about basketball records, and VW’s winning the best resale value of 2008 (which is hard to believe since 2008 isn’t over yet). The joke about “one of us winning a title this year” gets Knight mad- and he throws the chair saying he might not be retired yet.

The tagline of “The Auto” is meaningless, but eminently better than the “Once you get into a Volkswagen it gets into you” line that was trotted out right after Ms. Martin hit the job market. Somehow, I’m still waiting for CP+B to trot “Fahrvergnugen” back out- and do it right. Or for VW corporate to realize there was nothing wrong with “Drivers Wanted” which had a hint of BMW “Ultimate driving machine” for the rest of us.

Besides the dubious hints at quality (no fault of CP+B- they work with what VW builds), the only thing that stops these ads from being good is the “German voice” of the car. It’s a cartoon voice for a cartoon brand.

In the search for a brand voice, VW is still lost.

You can read the whole VW Press release here.