Volkswagen: The fun theory

I’m a huge fan of advertising campaigns in social spaces that are fun, narrative, a game, and not in your face. This one from The Fun Theory meets all that criteria and more:

I’m a huge fan of advertising campaigns in social spaces that are fun, narrative, a game, and not in your face. This one meets all that criteria and more:

Fun, educational, something that bonds people into a temporary community, with – as far as I can see – little in your face advertising from Volkswagen.


This from the site:VW

This site is dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better.

If I were say, Toyota, I’d be looking for an agency that will offer more than a blogger outreach program, Facebook Fan page and a YouTube “viral” clip….

Eight agencies have been put on a long list for the automotive giant, with the four best ideas then given the green light to go out to market. It’s understood each of the four selected agencies has been given a budget of $15,000 to complete their task.

The agencies behind the two most successful campaigns will continue to work with Toyota on a further two projects in the new year. The agencies involved include a mix of Toyota’s rostered agencies, and others that have been invited to pitch. Toyota currently uses an array of rostered agencies including Publicis Mojo, Saatchi & Saatchi and Oddfellows as above the line agencies, while it has other specialist agencies on the roster such as Hothouse, The Project Group and Mercer Bell among others. However, not all rostered agencies are included in the social media pitch.

Once the two agencies have been selected for the two projects to run next year, Toyota will then decide whether it is in a position to appoint a retained agency for social media.

Todd Connolly, manager – new media and direct marketing at Toyota, said the company has purposefully given agencies a low budget and limited time to work on the social media ideas “so the idea comes ahead of everything else”. (from B&T)

$15,000 buys you a bunch of blogger drinks and flash embeddable widgets. I hope they prove me wrong…. I won’t necessarily blame the agencies, it’s Toyota’s attitude that worries me: they want to play games with budgets and timelines but it’s the customer that will be inflicted with poorly thought out, low budget “social” media junk communiques, no? Wow. Just great.

Toyota has made other moves to become involved in social media – it has 30,000 followers on Twitter, has a Facebook page and earlier this month was announced as an inaugural sponsor of MySpace Music.

A facebook page, Twitter account, and ads on Myspace. Wow. Just great x2.

hat tip video: @mikezed of Profero

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  1. Hi Laurel 🙂
    I really liked this campaign – I liked the idea, the production, and the simplicity. I thought it was effective. But recently somebody used it as an example of a digital campaign that wasn’t well done, because it was not integrated successfully with keywords, SEO, did not equate to huge numbers of hits on the VW site etc.
    I still like it, and I still think it was successful in terms of spreading positive brand awareness. But Laurel, I wonder whether you think it is a good example if not tied into a broader digital marketing plan? Would love to hear your thoughts.

    1. Sounds like an agency wowser to me – 10 million views on YouTube means a viral hit. Certainly many times better than an expensive-to run-ad on TV.

      I think the difference between digital and social strategist is that social strategist aim for distribution – 10 million views means thousands of embeds i.e. channels. Only digital people would insist that that must convert into visits to a boring as batshit website. I guess the question is: do you want people to visit your website and what does that actually mean for you versus do you want your branding in front of tens of millions of people with feelgood brand sentiment happening?

      And that is the crux of the matter: marketing people need to make a decision – do you want a few hundred people visiting your companies website or do you want millions of people discussing your brand positively in front of friends and family and colleagues?

      So in answer to your question: business often requires a marketing mix, but reality means that is a mixed message (broadcast/shouting versus listening/playing). The world does what the world does, no matter how much businesses get upset “it shouldn’t be that way”. I think we wouldve seen video views in the low thousands if they’d whacked volkswagen.com branding all over the subway walls and video.

      “Doctor, the campaign was a successful implementation of a digital strategy but we didn’t get any views.” 😛

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