Volkswagen shows its appreciation (and innovation)

The automotive brand's year-end campaigns included experience giveaways and an interactive digital billboard.

Volkswagen Canada spent its holiday season showing appreciation for its customers, while also demonstrating its capabilities in innovation.

The campaigns were developed alongside outgoing creative partner DDB Canada and its CRM division, TrackDDB. In November, Volkswagen selected WPP to lead its North American marketing in an effort to improve its marketing efficiency by 30% by 2020.

Working with TrackDDB on “Volksgiving,” the automaker reached out to Volkswagen owners in Toronto and Montreal that were due for service and directed them to a landing page where they could book an appointment at a discounted rate after answering a few survey questions.

The responses were used to determine a set of personalized experiences for each participant, such as a trip to Spain, family cooking classes in France and an outdoor adventure package, that were presented as participants later entered the dealership to pick up their vehicle. At that moment, Volkswagen also informed them that the services they believed they would have to pay for were complimentary.

The brand captured participants’ reactions in a video with the goal of demonstrating appreciation for Volkswagen owners. Media for the campaign, which included cinema buys (from Dec. 28 to Jan. 3), social video, email marketing and on-site activations, was handled by Touche.

For years, Volkswagen has been running a program rewarding owners with perks, such as two-for-one lift tickets at local ski resorts and free movie pre-screenings for 20,000 Volkswagen drivers. It continues to offer owner benefits; however, this year it wanted to do something more to recognize Volkswagen owners, says Lynne Piette, director of marketing. “We wanted to give owners a more meaningful and memorable experience, and also personalized to their interests.”

Piette says the brand hopes to use the concept as a kind of platform that will continue running at different moments throughout the year. And while the initial launch focused on Montreal and Toronto (Ontario and Quebec are its two largest markets), it will look to roll future programs out nationally. A second iteration is expected for sometime in 2019.

In addition to “Volksgiving,” the company recently ran interactive digital billboards in Montreal and Toronto stemming from past work around its 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. In January 2018, the company unveiled a spot featuring a group of huskies and that encouraged drivers to “lead the pack” by choosing a Volkswagen vehicle equipped with the all-wheel-drive technology. That initial work has been supported with digital spots released later in the year, as well as TV, CRM, social and an experiential activation during the Toronto Santa Claus parade.

Capping off those efforts, Volkswagen worked with DDB Canada and Touche on the interactive billboard campaign. It used a sensor to recognize predetermined gesture commands which were then interpreted by custom software to trigger specific video playback. The wall featured one of the huskies from last year’s TV spot following the commands of passersby – suggesting that 4Motion AWD puts people in control of their motions.

“The idea is that Canadians want peace of mind and confidence in light of our Canadian winters, so we really wanted to demonstrate how our 4Motion all-wheel-drive technology allows drivers to be in control even in the toughest road conditions,” says Pinette.

The billboards were live at the Metro Centre and the Royal Bank Plaza in Toronto and at the Gare Centrale in Montreal. The idea, fundamentally, was to show that innovation at VW extends beyond that of its product.