Fun with fuel efficiency

Volkswagen's new digital campaign combines the cost-effectiveness of its diesel engines with the joy of the scenic route.


Touting your car’s fuel efficiency doesn’t have to be all about numbers and guilt trips about protecting the environment. To promote its line of TDI Clean Diesel engines, Volkswagen Canada has launched a new campaign showing how getting more gas for your cash gives drivers the chance to enjoy going off the beaten path.

On the “Detourist” website, users can input their location and intended destination as they would when they look for direction on Google Maps. But instead of showing them the fastest route, the site offers up several different, longer ones – be it one that is simply off the typically highways, offers better scenery and landmarks, hits the best places to stop and eat or a combination of all three. The site also shows how much someone would spend on fuel during the trip for five different Volkswagen models with TDI engines and compares it to a comparable, non-diesel model from a competitor.

DDB Canada and Tribal Worldwide Canada worked on the campaign, engaging its offices across the country to find the best local stops to include on the map in every region. The site is being promoted with sponsored social posts and search through the end of the summer.

“‘Route regret’ is something you’ll hear a lot of, those trips where you’re stuck in traffic on Highway 400 going up to the cottage when you could have actually experienced the performance of your car if you took the road less traveled,” says Rob Sturch, CD at DDB Canada. “You can see from the pragmatic side of things that going on a journey in a TDI is going to be more efficient, but it’s combined with the fun elements of actually driving a Volkswagen, which I think is part of what it’s known for as a brand.”

Jordan Gracey, director of digital marketing at Volkswagen Canada, says the company has typically been very modest when it comes to promoting its technological innovations, including the TDI engines, which were developed to be high-performance and fuel efficient at the same time.

“People think buying a fuel-efficient vehicle means sacrificing on something, typically the performance, because it means not having the same torque and horsepower,” she says. “What we wanted to communicate was that you don’t have to make that sacrifice with a TDI. We really make sure the driving experience is our focus, so performance and fuel efficiency fits naturally into that, because every single piece contributes to it, from how it drives to the entertainment system inside.”

Gracey adds that in addition to giving consumers an easy way to cut through the metrics that get thrown around when most brands talk about fuel efficiency, promoting the TDI engines is being done digitally because many of the company’s current and prospective customers are digitally-savvy and tend to do most of their purchase research online.

“It’s a channel where you can let someone touch, feel, zoom and give customers something that lets them go as deep or light as they want when they research,” she says. “A lot of what we do is trending to be more digital. Our brand is about giving our consumers what they need and matching their lifestyle, and digital is the channel where we’re showing most of that.”