How Volkswagen drove summer results

VW owners shared their camaraderie during nostalgic nights at the drive-in, organized by the brand to build loyalty.

Volkswagen Canada tapped into the nostalgia of the drive-in movie for its summer loyalty promotion, a move that’s proven successful in terms of customer engagement.

As part of its ongoing owner benefits program this month, the brand created six private “VW Drive-In” events across Canada. Members of its Volkswagen Plus portal (free to owners of the vehicles) were given passes to the events, which included a film screening of the Secret Life of Pets, face-painting, an old-school VW van and more activities targeted at families. DDB Canada led the strategy, with Brand Momentum working on the event activations.

While Volkswagen has used movie tickets as promotions in the past during the colder months, its summer programs were usually focused on special rates for amusement parks. Those events just weren’t driving the engagement the brand wanted, prompting it to try a new spin on going to the movies, says Rohan Lobo, manager, CRM and loyalty at Volkswagen Canada.

The idea for a retro drive-in was partly inspired by the nostalgia factor, since there aren’t many drive-in theatres left, he says. It also boosted the sense of camaraderie among owners. While the brand did hold special days at amusement parks in the past, many owners would go separately and when it was convenient for them. But, on VW movie nights, owners would often post pictures of the cinema parking lots full of the brand’s vehicles on social media to show off their loyalty as a group.

The results were telling. While last year’s amusement parks promotion tracked less than 3,500 participating owners and guests, roughly 10,500 people joined in on the VW Drive-In events, with many sharing the experience on social media. Registration for the events in Vancouver, Toronto and Oakville, ON. also each sold out within hours.

Post-event, the brand is sharing photo and video content of the drive-ins on the Volkswagen Plus portal, which was 200,000 members (a good base, considering Canada has roughly 500,000 VW vehicles on the road, Lobo points out).

Arriving at the #VWDriveIn in pure style. Hello, Oakville! Une arrivée remarquée au #CinéParcVW #VWCanada #VWlove

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Tonight, we're at The Docks in Toronto for the #VWDriveIn. #VWcanada #VWlove

A photo posted by Volkswagen Canada (@vwcanada) on