VW Courts Luxury With Phaeton

NEW YORK Volkswagen of America has launched a push through Havas’ Arnold for its Phaeton luxury sedan, targeting drivers who are less apt to judge luxury by a nameplate.

A 90-second teaser spot, running in art-house cinemas, satirizes science documentaries. It shows a little girl being tested for associations between shapes and colors. The study finds that she tends to group all pictures by color regardless of shape. Then, a 30-ish white-collar guy faces a similar test with pictures of the Phaeton that block out the VW logo. “BMW. Lexus. Mercedes,” he answers when he sees the photos. Next, when the VW logo on the car is shown, he continues to give the same answers.

Print ads play on the novelty of the VW luxury model. The first two pages of a three-page gatefold reveal an enormous picture of the car. The final page shows the grill with the VW logo. The headline: “Bet you didn’t see this coming.”

Another print ad, which will be the basis for TV spots breaking nationwide next month, shows a Phaeton and Beetle side by side with the headline, “It took 54 years to grow one this big.”

“It basically poses the question, ‘How can a car like this be a Volkswagen?'” said Alan Pafenbach, group creative director at Boston-based Arnold. “We are basically saying that it has far more to offer than a comparably priced vehicle, so that even in that price range it becomes a value.” The vehicle sells for about $65,000, roughly the same price as BMW’s 7 Series and Mercedes E Class.