APG-U.S. Account Planning Awards: Beetlemania

Agency: Arnold Communications
Client: Volkswagen
With a simple, well-rounded strategy for the new Bug, VW recaptures its lost youth.
The original Volkswagen Beetle was the biggest-selling and most-loved car in American history, and DDB’s ad campaign is still touted as America’s finest. Introducing the New Beetle in 1998 gave Arnold Communications the opportunity of a lifetime–and one of our most daunting challenges.
After conducting research, it was clear this car appealed to a broad audience owing to its strong heritage as an American icon. So we changed the way we typically target a potential audience from an age and income profile to a specific mindset. People who would initially come to the New Beetle were iconoclastic; they were unique, confident and unafraid of being the center of attention.
Our research revealed that most Americans had cherished memories of the original Beetle and those memories welled up at the sight of the New Beetle. The challenge from a communications standpoint was to let the New Beetle establish a new relationship with the public by harnessing the power of the original Beetle’s magic. We needed to be careful not to let advertising words get in the way.
Without exception, everyone smiled ear-to-ear on seeing the New Beetle for the first time. Artists and designers helped us uncover people’s love of round shapes. Circular shapes represent human forms, such as faces, eyes and heads. Unlike squares and triangles, circles are inviting and friendly–no sharp edges exist. Finally, we found that circular objects represent a completeness, a wholeness that draws people in. Our ads had to allow people the opportunity to enjoy this fun, happy, round shape.
The New Beetle had to thrive in and build on the “Drivers wanted” brand positioning. Better understanding the potential power of this special car, we determined the New Beetle would serve as a magnet for the entire Volkswagen brand. Its success would not only be measured in sales of New Beetles but in the overall growth of the brand and increased sales of VW’s other models.
The New Beetle campaign is as simple as it is honest. Using the silhouette of the car against a stark white background, the New Beetle’s shape is the focus of the communication and the aspect intended to draw in the viewer. The short, witty and powerful lines were designed to reach a multitude of different audiences and, at the same time, reach them in an individual and personal way.
The result? The waiting list for a New Beetle in most parts of the country exceeds three months, and the lists grow daily. Short-term intentions, a good predictor for future sales, as well as long-term intentions, are on a skyward course.
Additionally, the New Beetle is fulfilling its role as a magnet for the VW brand. Sales figures for the Jetta, Golf, Cabriolet and Passat have all increased since the launch of the New Beetle campaign. While the New Beetle rekindles the magic of its legendary namesake, it is successfully attracting a range of new drivers to Volkswagen.
CLIENT: Arnold Communications
Steve Wilhite, Core Process Team Leader
Liz Vanzura, Dir., Marketing
AGENCY: Arnold Communications
Kristin Volk, EVP/Dir., Consumer Insight Group
David White, Assoc. Dir., Consumer Insight Group
Karen Sharp, Account Planner
Francis Kelly, Man. Partner, Chief Marketing Officer
Karen Driscoll, EVP/Group Account Dir.
Jon Castle, VP/Management Supervisor
Ron Lawner, Man. Partner, Chief Creative Officer
Lance Jensen, EVP/Creative Dir.
Alan Pafenbach, EVP/Creative Dir.
John Gaffney, EVP/Media Dir.
Bill Goodell, VP/Assoc. Broadcast Dir.