Volkswagen has been doing all it can to up its visibility in India the past few years. It wouldn’t hurt, after all, to sell well in the country with the second largest population, right?
So it has run ads that make newspapers “talk” and bought silver wraps for newspapers to show off the Jetta’s cool coloring. A few years ago, it lowered a Vento from a skyscraper to introduce it to the nation.
The latest innovation from VW’s marketing gurus is a vibrating newspaper. As news consumers opened one of three papers – The Times of India, The Hindustan Times and The Hindu – a light-sensitive chip attached to ads that teased "Feel the Shiver of Excitement" for the Polo and Vento vibrated the paper — “quite literally, communicating to readers the shiver of excitement they’ll experience when they see the exciting new features” in the cars, according to Asia Media Journal.
Talk about buzz marketing. The move followed an earlier ad tech move in the The Times of India — a talking newspaper ad — that also grabbed readers' attention.
DDB Mudra created the vibrating newspaper ad as part of its new VW India campaign:
“Like our carlines, innovation has always been the core of our communication,” commented Lutz Kothe, Head of Marketing & PR, Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Volkswagen Group Sales India, about the vibrating newspaper advertising. “Through this innovation we have not only communicated the unique processes that go into making a Volkswagen but also the new features added to Polo and Vento. I am confident that like our other campaigns, this initiative will excite our customers to walk into our showrooms for a test drive.”
The vibration campaign hasn’t been all rainbows and doves for VW. One of their marketing folks made the error of tweeting out the following: “Women would be dumb to call it a vibrator. Or maybe they do not understand real driving experience.” That was followed by another tweet that drove another nail into the PR flack’s coffin: “Pun intended.” Ouch.
The offending tweets (since removed) weren't the first marcom misstep in the market. A VW India commercial that suggested people test how tough a VW is by driving it up to the meanest-looking rhino they could find at a wildlife conservation area and honking the horn in its face also got some flack from animal-lovers and environmentalists.
Magazines are also looking to sound and motion to give a jolt to print ad campaigns. Marie Claire UK is testing a video ad format from Dolce & Gabbana that plays a 45-second video when you open the page to the advertisement.
One tongue-in-cheek response to VW's moving print campaign: