Boring Features, Bad Dog, Good Volkswagen, Great Advertising

Ahh, Volkswagen, you’ve done it again. VW commercials tend to be hit or miss. And their latest “Bad Dog, Good Volkswagen” is a hit. At least I think so—see what you think:

Just looking at this dog is enough to entertain you, especially with Johnny Cash’s “Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog” pulling you through the story. The man in the commercial plays off the dog perfectly—his facial expressions, the way he holds the dog add to the humor of this ad.

This commercial hits the tenets of good advertising. In addition to the humor and the fitting song, above all else, it’s memorable. And that’s really what makes or breaks an ad.

Who wouldn’t remember that dog and the guy holding the dog next to his car to close all the windows. Priceless…and a great way to show the features of your car without being boring.

This commercial is so much better than the “Door Thunk” ones and ranks right up there with the Star Wars kid thinking he starts his dad’s car.

Hit or miss, Volkswagen is definitely creative when it comes to showing off its car features. I can’t think of any other car company showcasing these “boring, but nice to have” features of their car so well.

Can you?


VW Jetta ad: Joyful or junk?

If you’re a fan of dancing, Gene Kelly, or Donald O’Connor, you should love Volkswagen’s new Jetta commercial. Right?

Maybe not.

Singin’ in the Rain, starring Kelly and O’Connor, is one of my favorite movies. And when I saw both men start dancing in the Jetta commercial, a smile came to my face. But then my brain kind of interrupted and wiped that smile away.

Take a look at the commercial if you haven’t seen it yet.

This ad is an example of a great idea gone bad. Maybe they should’ve started with people watching footage of Kelly and O’Connor dancing. And then showed those same people getting in the car and reenacting the scene in the back seat.

See, the problem is that VW is touting Jetta’s spacious rear legroom. But, if they show us a doctored video, those of us watching don’t have reason to trust their claims. Show actual people dancing and we’re more likely to believe.

Another problem is, again, that VW is touting Jetta’s spacious rear legroom. Is legroom high up on the priority list of most Jetta buyers? I find that hard to believe. From my experience, I see most Jetta owners as in their teens and twenties.

Does this audience care about legroom? Do they even know who Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor are?

I doubt it. And that’s why this commercial doesn’t work.

What do you think?


If you’re a fan of Kelly and O’Connor, check out GeekGirlDiva’s post for the video of their original performance. Also, I want to use this space to give props to the students at Penn State. In their THON (46-hour dance marathon) this weekend, they raised more than $9.5 million to help kids with cancer. Congratulations!! THON is an amazing student-run event that makes me proud to be a Penn Stater. Go State!

Letter perfect: How VW can learn from the Y

Something has been bugging me lately, and maybe it’s been bugging you too. Volkswagen has been airing commercials that are ruining a good thing—the Punch Buggy game.

They would be good commercials, except for one thing—VW is changing the game. The game is known as Punch Buggy or SlugBug, and has been played by people across the globe for decades. (Check out Google results for Punch Buggy rules.)

The first person who spots a VW Beetle (also known as a VW Bug) punches the person next to him, saying “Punch buggy red!” for example, if it’s a red Beetle.

Volkswagen now is trying to change the game that fans have loved for so long. Any VW passes by and one guy hits the next saying, “Red one!”

Wrong—all wrong!

They could learn a few lessons from the YMCA, who recently announced a name change to simply “the Y.” Why did they do it? Because that’s what people who use their facilities call it.

No one, or at least very few people, say “YMCA.” We all just call it “the Y.” And even the not-for-profit Y knows smart marketing when they hear it.

As for VW, only two reasons can explain the gross misinterpretation of the Punch Buggy game:

  1. They don’t know their own brand and/or don’t understand how the game is played.
  2. They are trying to get people to play the game with all VW cars.

The sad part is, number one is not true. But stupidity would be preferable to the arrogance of a brand trying to takeover such an established fan game.

VW calls this new game “PunchDub” and ties it into their tagline by saying “With 13 different models it’s a whole new Volkswagen and a whole new game.”

It is. And it’s called trying to manipulate the crowd into helping Volkswagen turn a profit in the U.S. after eight straight years of loss.

A smarter move would’ve been to use the real Punch Buggy game to get people’s attention first. Offer something creative with fan participation that has a chance of going viral (like Ford’s Fiesta Movement).

Build trust, build buzz, and then start finding new ways to get those people interested in all your 13 different models.

Maybe someone in charge at VW should talk to Kate Coleman, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for the Y. She can tell you that listening to (and respecting) your customers is “…a way of being warmer, more genuine, more welcoming.”

Don’t you think that sounds like a recipe for a good brand?