Volkswagen makes giving back a marketing priority

This year's "Volksgiving" campaign focuses on the VW owners who have given the most to their communities: frontline workers.
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Volkswagen Canada is turning the focus for an annual giving back campaign to frontline workers as the brand works to further solidify itself as a car brand for the people.

As part of the third annual “Volksgiving” initiative, which surprises deserving Volkswagen owners with gifts, the automaker put out a national call for nominations of owners who also happened to be frontline workers, and went above and beyond the call of duty during the pandemic.

Of the 1,100 nominees, 18 were selected and told they were being interviewed for a film about essential workers. However, during the interviews – which went into heart-wrenching detail about the jobs they have doing – a screen turned on and video-conferenced in messages of thanks and recognition from family members, friends and co-workers. They also received gifts that have become typical of “Volksgiving,” such as a cottage weekend in Muskoka and a wellness retreat in the Laurentians.

“We really wanted to focus in on those essential workers because during COVID-19, they’re the ones that truly made the biggest difference,” says Lynne Piette, director of marketing at Volkswagen Canada. “They’re the ones that put themselves, and sacrificed a lot, by putting their health, their lives on the line for the rest of Canada. That was really important to us.”

Piette says doing so aligns with the brand’s values of “doing good, inclusivity and community involvement.” Volkswagen has also worked to position itself as “the people’s brand” over the years, be it through giving back to its owners in “Volksgiving,” getting fans to shoot its ads or by positioning its lineup of SUVs as having a fit for blended families, single-parent families, extended families and chosen families. Focusing on frontline workers, Piette says, is helping the brand back to a group that did a massive amount of work for a huge number of people this year.

“Volksgiving” remains one of the marketing priorities for the brand for the rest of the year, Piette says, because “it’s important for Volkswagen to have a place in society that has a bigger purpose than just selling cars.” Outside of CSR, it remains focused on its SUVs, which continues to be a major growth driver for the automotive sector.

The brand worked with Type 1 on creative, which is running through paid social and also includes an earned media and influencer push led by Hill + Knowlton.