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From 'talking newspaper' to 'vibrating newspaper', Volkswagen does it again

Yesterday’s print innovation by DDB Mudra for VW created a lot of buzz for the brand, but nobody felt the “shiver of excitement”. Everybody felt a vibration! Why should a vibrator make one shiver?

From ‘talking newspaper’ to ‘vibrating newspaper’, Volkswagen does it again 

Yesterday’s print innovation by DDB Mudra for VW created a lot of buzz for the brand, but nobody felt the “shiver of excitement”. Everybody felt a vibration! Why should a vibrator make one shiver?

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | September 12, 2012

Innovative press advertising is not new to Volkswagen. From the ‘Talking Newspaper’ campaign in 2010 to the ‘Silver Newspaper’ in 2011, Volkswagen is credited with some of the most innovative marketing initiatives in India. On a Tuesday morning in 2010 (September 22), when the readers of The Times of India and The Hindu opened their newspaper, they were surprised to find their papers talking about Volkswagen cars. The German carmaker had spent close to Rs 5 crore for that much-talked about print innovation.

Volkswagen came up with another similar innovation exactly after two years yesterday, also a Tuesday (September 11). The luxury car brand used a vibrator to create a ‘shiver’ effect. The German automotive giant launched this innovative campaign for the Polo and Vento in The Times of India, Hindustan Times and The Hindu. The opening page simply read: “Feel the shiver of excitement?”

Yesterday’s print ad including the vibrator innovation included four pages talking mainly about different features of Volkswagen’s Vento and Polo. The vibrator was inserted on the last page. The innovation has been implemented nationally with The Times of India editions in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore; The Hindu in the south; and Hindustan Times in Delhi – thereby covering a major part of its target audience.

Volkswagen is learnt to have spent around Rs 7 crore to execute the campaign on this scale.

While the basic idea was conceived by its agency DDB Mudra, Volkswagen said that execution and implementation was a team effort. “Good ideas have always come from great teams and collaborative work within our marketing department as well as our agencies,” said Kothe.

MediaCom is Volkswagen’s media agency.

Talking about the objective of the innovation, Lutz Kothe, Head of Marketing and PR, Volkswagen Passenger Cars, said, “The Polo and the Vento are our volume car lines here in India and are now packed with exciting new features like navigation system with rear view camera, Bluetooth, multi-function controls on steering wheel and much more at even more attractive prices – which is the reason for the excitement and therefore the essence of the innovation.”

Shiver or Vibration?

The innovation, without a doubt, achieved its objective of creating buzz. But it also led to a lot of titter and snigger in the online space. For one, purists of the English language had a laugh that the copywriters on the campaign did not seem to know the difference between “shiver” and “vibrator”! And rightly so. A shiver is triggered by chilly conditions – like a German winter – or a blast of cold wind. But a vibrator is a mechanical device for generating vibrations – not shivers! There are many different types of vibrators – including vibrator sex toys! Therein lies the genesis of the online titter as the twiteratti had a field day. As one tweet said: “I'm not sure anymore if VW stands for Volkswagen or ‘Vibration for Women’.”

And many adlanders too were not impressed. Here is a sampling:

IPL CEO Sundar Raman, former Managing Director of Mindshare, tweeted: “Shiver? Not something you wanna feel in a car! Innovation in execution, not the best copy.”

Equus Red Cell boss Swapan Seth: “The VW ad in today's paper was such a waste of money! And an exceedingly tired idea.”

Mindshare’s CEO, South & Southeast Asia, R Gowthaman: “Now it is innovation for the sake of it! What more can you do with paper?”

Russell Barrett of BBH India: “Putting husbands out of business. First a talking, now a vibrating newspaper.”

Subho Sengupta, “The VW ad with the little vibrating box is a telling comment on advertising. And I'm not telling.”

LG Electronics Marketing Head LK Gupta: “One must commend Volkswagen's consistency of strategy in using n'paper medium. But brand msg surely getting lost in the din of "innovation". 3 pages of advtg messaging on hi-tech features & innovations in their cars, but people will remember only the 10 cent vibrator! It matters not how many people understand media innovation. Eventually the job of ad spending is to transmit product & brand msgs.”

Perhaps the light-sensitive chip stuck to yesterday’s newspapers should have emitted a cold blast as one turned to the last page of the four-page ad, or the front page header should have read “Feel the tremors of excitement”. But VW and DDB Mudra can still be happy by the buzz created.



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