The market for large family cars is very competitive, and the launch of the new Passat was somewhat a challenge, as the design was not indicating this was a completely new car.
Advanced driving assist systems, though, are main features in the new Passat including Trailer Assist. The optional Trailer Assist steers automatically while the driver is still responsible for gear shifting, acceleration and braking.
The target audience was adult men with a family and the need for a roomy car, which often also means from time to time a need of a trailer. Passat is segment leader among family cars, and most of them are equipped with a trailer hitch.
The agency also build on one basic insight: Most people find it difficult to reverse with a trailer and hate to do it. A system that will help them out will obviously create attention. However, MediaCom needed to demonstrate it in an exceptional way, to ensure that the target group would find it worthwhile seeing and sharing.
Since social media to a large degree is about entertainment, and surprising videos always create a large number of viewers and involvement it decided to move along that path.
This gave MediaCom the communication strategy and the idea for the campaign.
The fight for attention is hard even for entertaining video content. MediaCom believed it had content with a potential for sharing, but in order to make it happen it had it to get it right from the start, and decided to make the content look less like a commercial thus increasing the potential for sharing.
Most importantly it decided to focus its paid digital media towards young adult men even though the average car buyer is 40 years +. By targeting influencers rather than the actual car buyer, it expected to achieve far higher sharing and thus organic views of the video, and the car buyers would get the video from their younger colleagues and children rather than from Volkswagen directly.
Even though it was tempting to use TV from the start, the agency decided to place TV at the end of the campaign period, to create as many organic views as possible before launching the TV ad.
At the start it sponsored Facebook posts and placed the video on selected sites in the BeOn network. It made the content easy to share and used YouTube as the hub for organic viewing and sharing.
The content lived up to its potential and was shared even faster than assumed. This gave a good story to use in PR, and the 250 online articles in 46 countries further increased the engagement.
The creative solution was to perform a stunt where the agency wanted to demonstrate an exceptional maneuvering with a trailer in reverse at high speed.
In ordinary streets and along ordinary roads where the public should believe they observed a 100% real reverse driving with a trailer.
In order for the illusion to be realistic, it built a trailer around a car, which it stripped for the body. This way it allowed the “trailer” to reverse with a new Passat, giving the illusion that the Passat was reversing.
Stuntmen drove the trailer and the car and everything was recorded on video, which gave two films: One that shows the actual stunt and one behind-the-scenes film. Both produced primarily for the use in social media.
The campaign reached the following global results initiated from a country with only five million people:
• Created a Facebook reach of more than 55 million,
• Achieved more than 28 million video views so far, 69% of these were organic.
• The videos were watched in 125 different countries
• Close to 1,800,000 engagements with the campaign:
- 1.190.000 likes
- 470.000 shares
- 133.000 comments.
• Reached 2.4 million views on YouTube, all of these were organic
• The stunt was described in more than 250 online articles in more than 46 countries with more than 396 million potential readers
• The campaign was launched in a post diesel gate atmosphere with a lot of negative buzz around the brand, and managed to break the negative curve
• The sale of Volkswagen Passat in Norway increased 15% the following month.