VW Seeks to Drive New Beetle Sales

NEW YORK Volkswagen will break a humorous campaign this week for the 2006 New Beetle in an effort to reverse declining sales for the vehicle. Creative is from Havas’ Arnold in Boston, which is being replaced by MDC Partners’ Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Miami, as lead creative agency.

TV spots are parodies of Hollywood good-versus-evil archetypes. “New Beetle vs. Porta Potty” depicts a gunfight from the Old West, complete with Spaghetti-Western music. As the two square off, the potty can’t take the pressure, shakes and explodes, sending its roll of toilet paper flying. “New Beetle vs. Sardines” and other spots follow a similar scenario. The tagline is, “A force of good.”

Support includes two-page double-sided inserts in publications such as Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly and People; and a grass-roots “Force of Good” tour this fall to do “random acts of kindness,” said Kerri Martin, director of brand innovation at Volkswagen of America, Auburn Hills, Mich.

Sales of New Beetles are down almost 24 percent through August, after a 35 percent drop in 2004, per Ward’s Auto.com. Overall, the company has seen U.S. car sales drop more than 19 percent through August.

Analysts said the company has not created enough new core products, having turned its sights to an upscale audience with vehicles such as the Phaeton and Touareg.

“They spent extremely valuable R&D money on grandiose visions of where the brand should go, rather than focus on their core vehicles,” said Todd Turner, president of Car Concepts, Thousand Oaks, Calif. “It’s not a luxury brand.”