Volkswagen has room for any family in an ‘SUVW’

The automaker is familiarizing people with its lesser-known SUV lineup by showing it's not just for the "traditional" family.

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To get people better acquainted with its SUV and crossovers, Volkswagen is touting its lineup as having the right fit for any family – whatever “family” means to you.

In a 30-second spot, the automaker shows blended families, single-parent families, extended families and chosen families. The spot goes on to say that, if there’s no such thing as an “average” family, there’s no need for “average” family SUV, highlighting the three models in the automaker’s lineup: the Tiguan, the Atlas and the Cross Sport.

“The importance wasn’t just about showing the SUVs as a family, it was important that we did so in a way that stood out,” says Lynne Piette, director of marketing at Volkswagen Canada. “A lot of other manufacturers are doing SUV advertising in a really traditional way. [They show] the regular traditional family – mom and dad, kids, hockey bags, perhaps a dog. Volkswagen has always been about disrupting the status quo. What we wanted to lean into was an insight that Canadians are really coming from different, non-traditional families.”

SUV and crossover sales have been driving the Canadian automotive sector for the better part of the last decade, even as sales have begun to dip following several record-breaking years; while total new vehicle sales dipped by 3.6% in 2019, SUV and pickup truck sales grew by 1.5%. Even though the pandemic had a major impact on new car sales so far in 2020, SUVs have been major beneficiaries of a post-reopening bounce-back, helped by lower gas prices.

Piette notes that Volkswagen is “the people’s car brand” and has “always been open to everyone.” And it’s not just that nuclear family with 2.5 kids that has been keeping demand for utility vehicles healthy for so long.

“I think, in today’s society, the audience is broad. And for us, it’s very important that we are embracing everyone as they are,” she adds. Part of that is reflected in the vehicle design, with moveable seats that ensure it can meet a lot of functional needs for families, but also disabled passengers, part of the Inclusivity Mobility Initiative that engages with disability groups in the nascent stages of the brand’s vehicle technologies and mobility services.

Piette says Volkswagen also participated in “Blackout Tuesday,” pausing all of its media and organic advertising on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram in an effort to influence those sites to eliminate any kind of discriminatory or hateful content. At a global level, Volkswagen was also one of the many brands that pulled its ads from Facebook in July as part of the “#StopHateForProfit” campaign.

Historically, Volkswagen has been known for classic models like the Beetle, the Golf and the Jetta. The brand had limited SUVs in its lineup until 2008, when it launched the Tiguan, and it has taken time to build awareness for its lineup. Tiguan is the best known of its models, and Piette says it took a portfolio-wide approach for its new campaign to show that the brand “doesn’t just have one.” The campaign also describes the models in a way that will make their differentiation points immediately clear: Tiguan is “the fun one”, the Atlas is “the roomy one” and the Cross Sport is “the bold one.”

Piette says the car brand will be adding two additional SUVs to its lineup next year; VW plans to announce its new SUV in October, rumoured to be a North American version of the Tharu crossover it sells in China.

The new campaign was led by Type 1, WPP’s dedicated Volkswagen unit, with media buy handled by Touché. There is paid digital and social supporting the campaign, and the spot is being broadcasted nationally, promoting this year’s Volksfest.