Ray Winstone hates vans (apparently). “They’re boring. And Volkswagen... a bit posh, a bit safe.” Volkswagen returned the compliment with “He’s not very... Volkswagen, he’s a bit erm… aggressive?”. Not a great match then. But hang on a minute, let’s work this through.
The client’s issue was that Ray didn’t match the archetypal Volkswagen customer they’d been working to for 20 years. But we proved that Ray was hugely popular with the commercial vehicle audience, an audience which was substantially different to the car audience. And therein lay the lack of cut-through with VW’s previous commercial vehicle brand and tactical work – vans are not cars. VW van and car drivers are not one and the same. And advertising them with the same ‘posh and safe’ concepts (in Ray’s words) that worked so well for the Golf, just didn’t cut the mustard with this salt-of-the-earth audience. In fact, it was having a negative effect.
We needed to think differently to convince the commercial audience that Volkswagen made vans that were genuinely right-up-their-street.
It took some work – but we got him. Our concept was to play to Ray’s strengths, use his language, his phrasing, let him adlib in recording and even have sign-off on the result.
Boy did it work – a doubling of sales, 35% increase in market share with the Transporter beating the Transit for the first and only time in tracking history for unprompted brand awareness. And all with no measurable detriment to the passenger car brand metrics either.
And not just a Gold Winner in the Best Use of Advertising category but the winner of the Top 10 B2B campaigns of the last decade. Sometimes, perceived risk isn’t risk at all. As long as you’ve got your facts straight. Sweet.