Brand: VolkswagenÂ Jetta
Link: Click HereÂ (You Tube)
Target: Post-collegiate Drivers
Twentysomethings talk about ordinary subjects while driving in a Jetta in these spots. In one, two guys discuss whether a girl is turned off by the word ‘like’ and in another, two couples discussed who cried in a movie they’ve all seen. The driver in each of these spots is attentive, with both hands on the wheel. In the middle of the conversation, as we are observing the driver, we see a sudden threat. In one case it is a car running a red light, in another it’s a car pulling out unexpectedly from a side road. Then there is a sudden accident. In one spot we see the airbags inflate. The spots cut to black and then to the driver and passengers standing outside the damaged Volkswagen Jetta. They are clearly unharmed. Then the spot cuts to a shot of the damaged car rotating on a white pedestal with the tagline “Safe Happens” superimposed above. Then we see the five star government side impact crash test rating.
This is a visually engaging spot – so much so that it may bring attention back to the television during the commercial break. The situation is very plausible and feels utterly real. This spot does an excellent job of viscerally engaging the viewer. The branding in this campaign is also very good. This is a product-as-hero execution and the Jetta is in virtually every frame. The VW logo is also visible on the steering wheel of the car early on.
There is some controversy with this spot, of course. The question is whether the crash scene is too dramatic and might create an aversion effect. Our take is that this spot will offend or traumatize some viewers, but overall it will engage more than it repels. Those who do remember it will associate it with Volkswagen.
The permission to believe in the selling proposition of this spot is the five star government crash test rating which is persuasive.
In spite of our very positive feelings on the dramatic execution of this spot, we believe that it is a strategic mistake for Volkswagen. The issue is not whether the spot is credible or believeable or persuasive – the question is whether it is ownable. We would argue that Volvo still commands the strongest consumer affiliation with safety, and that VW’s attempts to sell safety in the Jetta will not ultimately cause consumers to tie ‘safety’ to either ‘Jetta’ or ‘Volkswagen’.
Support for this position comes from an unlikely quarter. Several years ago, Whirlpool realized that between Consumer Reports data and its own internal testing, it was producing the most durable, dependable washers and dryers on the market. Their attempts to capitalize on this in advertising were universally rejected in consumer testing, however, because consumers had spent a generation watching Maytag ads featuring the lonely repairman. Even though the Maytag product was no longer as dependable as Whirlpool, the Maytag brand continued to ‘own’ reliability. Whirlpool’s solution was to buy Maytag.
Thus, in spite of this Advertising Blog’s fondness for this efficient, dramatically-executed spot, we cannot give it better than a middle rating because we believe it is off-strategy for the brand. Jetta has been a difficult brand to market because as a car it has many virtues. Choosing among them to position the car effectively has not been Volkswagen’s strong suit.
Branding Bottom Line:
That scary Jetta crash ad has us seriously considering buying a Volvo.