CASSIES Bronze: Who’da thought VW needed simplifying?

Resulting sales from the "Who'da thought" campaign made it the brand’s highest fall sales period in Canada.

img4Events, Seasonal, Short Term

Situation Analysis: During the first half of 2013, achieving retail sales objectives was a challenge for Volkswagen. To overcome this and get the year back on target, the company needed to better understand how consumers behaved in the key 30-day period prior to purchasing a vehicle, re-examining consumer concerns in a marketplace saturated with promotional offers.

Insight & Strategy: Analysis showed that in the six months preceding a purchase, consumer perception of vehicle price versus value did not change, even though perception of value was key in vehicle purchase consideration. But consideration does not necessarily translate into intent. Online videos had become the number one source of information when considering a vehicle purchase as consumers tried to understand and compare complex technical specifications before visiting a dealership. The increased sophistication of mass-market cars had added complexity to the purchase decision-making process; features such as Volkswagen’s Intelligent Crash Response System, Turbo Stratified Injection and adaptive front lights were lost on many potential customers who struggled to put a value on them. Consequently, Volkswagen evolved its communications strategy, putting focus on the perceived value of its technology.

Execution: With the aim of reaching potential buyers 30 days before their purchase, messages featuring the tagline “Who’da thought” were aired starting September 2013 using web banners, 30-second TV spots, 30-second radio spots, newspaper, e-blasts, owned and dealer digital properties and social media. Potential buyers were directed to the website,, which featured eight animated short films that explained Volkswagen features in simple terms, highlighting how skilful German engineers were in finding simple, effective and unique technical solutions, before users progressed to various buying tools (promotional offers, build a vehicle, price evaluation, book a test drive, find a dealer, etc.) With mass media driving consumers to web, and web to dealer, the communication approach was more consistent with how buying behaviour had evolved.

Results: After flat year-over-year sales in the months prior, the campaign had an immediate impact with a 6.2% sales increase compared to the same period (September to November) in the previous year, and were above total market growth in the period of +3.8%, making it the highest fall selling season sales in Volkswagen Canada’s history. The campaign also increased the value perception rating for Volkswagen vehicles from 21% to 53%.

Cause & Effect: With no model launches, no additional Canadian dealerships and a flat media budget, the results clearly traced back to the “Who’da thought” campaign, especially given a significant jump in web statistics. The click-through rate of the web banner jumped to 0.35% compared to 0.09% in 2012, surpassing the industry average CTR of 0.11%, and the e-blast click-through rate was 9% higher than industry standards.

Client: Volkswagen Canada
Agency: Palm + Havas