Volkswagen’s fun-loving, youthful image was in the rear-view mirror – fast being lapped by Japanese and European brands. Kiwis no longer saw the brand as relevant, let alone cool or exciting. VW found itself in a no-man’s-land of ‘dependable and a bit boring’, whereas the other guys were enjoying greater appeal.
So, when Rocket was tasked with launching the new Volkswagen Beetle to next-generation bright young things (in their 20’s and early 30’s), it truly knew it had its work cut out. The challenge facing the marketing team was that brand love had braked hard. The audience lacked a connection and had fallen out of love with both the Volkswagen brand and the iconic Beetle.
It’d been quite some time since the ‘Bug’ had had a makeover – and these days with everything renewing and refreshing itself every five minutes, the VW Beetle was old hat. Added to the challenge was an absolute cacophony of sound and fury with endless car ads for a myriad of brands all trying to own ‘hip and happening’, not to mention VW having a battle on its hands to entice both attention and spending away from all the other toys and brands the audience is categorically required to have.
The easy route was to rehash those nostalgic memories of the summer of ’69 in a bug. But let’s face it that would have been highly predictable and Kiwi audiences would have switched off instantly But what Rocket did know would switch them on was anything that created Kiwi pride on an international stage. Because they live at the bottom of the world, they love to punch above our small country weight. They love a good local trend that is born on the streets of NZ but is something which has global scale. Something that is quirky and different and brings to life their fun-loving (never taking ourselves too seriously) nature.
Saying something started in New Zealand is the ultimate badge of pride for any Kiwi. So Rocket's strategy was to change a gear away from clichéd idea and the automotive competition. While the rest of the industry talked tech and price VW changed gear, dropped all car-talk, and sparked a new NZ social movement. It decided to create a meme (an element of a culture or behavior that spreads from person to person). To do this it didn’t need to show the car instantly like all the competitors but needed an idea that embodied the Beetle but got the audience engaged.
The shape of Beetle is such a distinctive asset so what if VW was to use that to its advantage? Working with the creative agency DDB, Rocket developed an idea that engaged the audience right from the starting line. The Idea: Beetleing: the act of imitating the Beetle’s iconic shape in unlikely or unusual locations. It was fun, quirky and totally ownable by the brand. Just the simple idea of Kiwis publicly imitating a Beetle all over New Zealand, was a great way to get people talking and thinking about VW in a new light. And the reward for giving it a go? A brand new Beetle.
First gear: It sparked intrigue and interest - The first step was to engage local A-listers (relevant to the audience) to start Beetleing across NZ. From Parliament in Wellington to the beaches of Auckland, it drove curiosity before launching the campaign.
Second gear: Feeding the beast - A radio partnership then gave VW national reach, driving listeners to its Facebook page where it offered the ultimate Beetleing prize. “Do your Beetle” for a Beetle. It got taken to the streets with a series of activations at NZ’s busiest locations which drove competition entries and gave the campaign meme what it needed most – momentum, content and endorsement.
Third gear: On a roll - Amazing content did the talking. Online formats pulled in live images of Beetleing, while daily print placements showcased the best ‘Beetlers’ and primetime TV activity celebrated NZs Beetlers en masse.
• Beetles SOLD OUT at pre-sale stage, contributing $1M+ in additional revenue to Volkswagen.
• Traffic to the VW NZ site saw a massive 66% increase.
• The Facebook target was blitzed. 22,000 new fans joined in just four weeks which is outstanding in NZ small market. The equivalent of 7 million people in China when comparing to proportion of population in NZ.
• New Beetle enthusiasts were created, with a 12% database increase. We ended on a high note when in May, 2013, the Marketing Manager for Volkswagen NZ visited Volkswagen HQ in Berlin and presented Beetleing to Volkswagen’s Global Marketing Roundtable. The campaign was heralded as one of the most innovative launches of Beetle. Ever.