CASSIES Silver: Volkswagen takes a gamified approach

A unique reverse-auction helped the car co speed through its pre-sale objectives.

Events, Seasonal and Short-Term

Situation Analysis: The Volkswagen Golf, dating back to 1974, occupied a place in the hearts of both car enthusiasts and the general public alike. But, despite the Golf’s illustrious history, there were three major challenges for the summer 2014 launch of the 7th-generation Volkswagen Golf and Golf GTI.

Firstly, the models had already been launched worldwide the previous year, lessening the impact of the official Canadian launch announcement. Secondly, supply was constrained, creating a five-month gap between old and new models from January to May 2014. Thirdly, there were insufficient media funds to heavily invest in both the pre-launch and launch, with the bulk of the spending allocated post-launch. The task was to promote the pre-launch and generate 1,500 pre-sold units between February and June 2014 without models being available for test drives or a media budget.

Insight & Strategy: One of the Golf and Golf GTI’s core value propositions is that they are fun to drive because the Golf’s distinctive handling gives the driver a feeling of being in control. Perhaps this feeling could be replicated in the pre-order phase by giving the consumer control over the price in a fun and interesting way, putting the power in their hands.

Execution: The Volkswagen Countdown to a Golf, which ran from April 17 to June 24, 2014, was a reverse auction in which the starting MSRP of the all-new Golf and Golf GTI decreased by one cent a second, up to $1,000 per day, potentially down to $0. One Golf and one Golf GTI were simultaneously reverse-auctioned, and each time a vehicle was reserved, a new one would reappear after 60 seconds at the original starting price. The countdown was synchronized on all platforms (tablet, desktop, mobile) with the number of people on the website displayed in real time. The countdown, which could only sell 120 vehicles over the 60-day promotional period, aimed to create a buzz about the Golf and Golf GTI, which would result in non-discounted pre-sales. With a $0 media budget, Countdown to a Golf was promoted via an e-blast to over 250,000 Volkswagen owners and prospects, social media, YouTube and a PR campaign targeting traditional media, bloggers and a wide range of Canadian forums.

Results: The pre-sales objective of 1,500 units was exceeded with 1,810 pre-sold by June 24.

During the Countdown to a Golf campaign, 81% of the pre-sales (1,482 units) were sold, with only 137 units directly ordered through the countdown (with an average discount of only $250).

Cause & Effect: Pre-sales increased 4.5 times during the Countdown to a Golf campaign compared to the pre-campaign period, increasing from 328 pre-sold units by the end of March to an additional 1,482 units from April to June. During the campaign, earned media reached nearly 10 million impressions, with coverage by Globe and Mail, The Gazette Autonet, Driver, The Car Guide, Auto123 and La Presse. The Countdown site hosted over 117,000 sessions from 66,526 unique visitors. With price discounting on only the 137 cars purchased in the countdown, no distribution changes and no other initiatives at the time, the pre-sale results can be attributed to the campaign.

Client: Volkswagen Canada
Agency: Palm + Havas