Time to fall in love-again

by Nishant Biswal who cracks quizzes like stone on glass, wanders the lonely planet and occasionally attends classes in the second year of PGP at IIM Kozhikode

The last time they did this was in 1998. In the words of the parent company those versions are now teenagers. A redo, they say, was imminent. 2011 will see a marketing blitz like no other as Volkswagen goes all out to grab eyeballs for its brand new 21st Century Beetle. One of the world’s most loved cars has got a contemporary makeover and I think that only augurs well for car aficionados and marketing professionals alike.

So what has the Wolfsburg-based auto giant done to one of the most iconic and enduring designs in the automobile world ? Not much in my opinion. They have added masculine edges to the chassis, boosted the power throughput in the engine, added stylized fenders and provided a multitude of options in terms of the interiors. I probably digress a bit, though one cannot help but gush about how the designers have got the cosmetic changes spot on. The 2012 Beetle wears a sporty look with some sort of a devil-may-care edge to it. This Beetle is definitely not cute.

Like all wannabe advertising gurus, I was also keenly looking forward to the Superbowl earlier this year. And the teaser commercial for the new Beetle hit the bull’s eye. Deutsch L.A the makers of the teaser commercial have created an entomological equivalent of our world. We can see a stylized beetle (the insect this time) racing around the forest floor. All the usual stunts associated with a regular car commercial are present in this as well, only we see the insect performing the heroics here. Set to the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s cover of “Black Betty” the commercial has a racy edge to it and the beetle exudes all the attitude that the designers would want to associate with the 2012 Beetle. It swerves around a file of ants, manages to grab the attention of two bickering grasshoppers, flies through the air into the sunset – all traditional components of car commercials. But the treatment given to these traditional ideas transforms this commercial into a visual delight. One cannot possibly term it as “just another car advertisement”.

Check out the making of this cutting-edge commercial, which culminates in the actual ad:

Volkswagen has ambitious plans to market its new Beetle. The teaser set the world abuzz – a new Beetle was bound to create news. But having provided a glimpse into its new offering, Volkswagen had to up the ante going ahead. On 18thApril, 2011 the new 2012 Beetle made its debut across three continents. In association with MTV World Stage the new Beetle was unveiled in Shanghai, Berlin and then New York. This association with MTV and the concert like atmosphere at the launches hints at the new target segment for the makers of the Beetle. For long the skewed demographic break-up of its owners (55%-female, 45%-metrosexuals) had harried the male users of the Beetle with questions being raised about their manhood. And naturally this worried Volkswagen. The 2012 Beetle is an attempt at correcting that perception. The 2012 Beetle oozes sporty, masculine attitude and MTV is the perfect platform to reach out to the young male target segment.

An appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show notwithstanding, the message seems to be clear. The 2012 Beetle is meaner, faster, loaded with attitude and to paraphrase a certain Indian motorcycle phenomenon – “Definitely Male”.


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