SNL Teams Up With VW for Online Campaign

A new online campaign for VW, called “Inside the VW Academy,” from Deutsch, Los Angeles, pairs the offbeat humor of Saturday Night Live’s Bill Hader with the fact-filled delivery of product spokesperson Danielle Gumro to add entertainment value to the standard walk around sales video.

Clips ranging in length from one to three minutes, showcasing the features of the new Jetta, Tiguan and Touareg, went live this week. VW plans on releasing a total of 18 videos highlighting the 2011 line by year’s end.

The brand has aggressive growth goals for the American market, and adding entertainment to the standard product demo could help raise purchase consideration, said Charlie Taylor, general manager of digital marketing for Volkswagen. Taylor cites research that shows car buyers are 14 times more likely to use online video in their shopping research than other consumers. Tim Ellis, vp of marketing, has outlined a sales goal of 800,000 vehicles in the U.S. by 2018. (Last year, VW sold only 256,830.)

“Buying cars is a very stressful event for most Americans,” said Taylor. “[Hader’s] personality is a bit disarming, [but] it can put you at ease. He is very approachable, and his comedy is extremely entertaining. He is like the VW brand.”

If the campaign is successful—which Taylor defines as raising brand consideration and keeping viewers engaged throughout the clips—then the videos will become an evergreen feature on the VW site.  

Hader and SNL writer John Mulaney provided the comedian’s lines, while the Deutsch creative team, led by group creative director Michael Kadin, scripted Gumro’s dialogue. “There is no other brand in the history of advertising [that] has the legacy of brilliant creative [like] VW has,” said Kadin. “We knew it couldn’t just be a talking brochure.”

The spontaneity of the SNL pair’s creativity on set was a stark contrast to the usually methodical process of creating advertising, said Kadin. “It was truly the most inspired thing I’ve seen,” he said.

Ninety percent of the improvisational comedy provided by the SNL team made it into the final spots. The rest “is still being reviewed by lawyers,” laughed Taylor.