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VW's Unusual Super Bowl Web Strategy: Move On

  |  February 3, 2011   |  Comments

Volkswagen's big-game TV spots will not appear in day-after online ads. Instead it will drive awareness of new online videos.

beetleVolkswagen's Super Bowl spots, featuring the all-new Beetle and the 2012 Passat, have already garnered significant buzz. But don't look for it to dote on them in its day-after online ads. In an unorthodox twist, Volkswagen's post-game Web strategy is to move on from its Super Bowl ads, directing viewers to a new "Inside the Academy" ad starring Saturday Night Live's Bill Hader that will break Monday.

Volkswagen will run a YouTube home page takeover Monday with the new ad posted in the masthead unit. After it plays, viewers are taken to a page hosting previous Inside the Academy videos and the two Super Bowl TV spots.

During the game Sunday, Volkswagen will play previously released Inside the Academy videos on ESPN Mobile, where it also purchased a home page takeover.

"Often, Super Bowl campaigns use the Internet to replay the TV spots with add-on features or extra footage, but we wanted to use it to compare our vehicles with others in their class," said Josh Rose, digital creative director at Deutsch, Los Angeles, Volkswagen's lead agency.

The ad that debuts Monday directly compares the VW Passat with the Honda Accord, with Hader playing a defense lawyer who struggles to defend the Accord against the Passat. It will be the latest in a series of long-form video ads starring the SNL actor.

"The digital medium is part of the shopping process, not an addendum to the advertising." Rose said. "We want to use the Internet as a place to push the conversation about car shopping. It's a more advanced way to use the digital media, not just a way to show additional content but to push viewers to see how the VW stacks up against the competition."

Competitive videos, which alternate with overview and feature videos for each VW model, are the most popular, with competitive ads for the Jetta and Tiguan receiving 108,000 and 123,000 YouTube views. Nine Inside the Academy videos currently posted at YouTube have received over 400,000 total views.

On Sunday Volkswagen will feature its Super Bowl spots on its YouTube page. "People who come to search for the ads will find them on Sunday, but on Monday they'll see the banner that will play the new webisode," Rose said.

Chris Stutzman, a Forrester analyst, praised Volkswagen's attempt to utilize the web for comparison shopping. "Buying a car is a complex decision making process and VW needs more than top of mind," he said. "People don't just want to watch TV spots and the car features shown through the Inside the Academy webisodes will stay on their radar."

AKQA, the agency that created the ESPN Mobile unit and Mediacom, Volkswagen's media buying agency, were unavailable for comment.

After Monday's YouTube home page takeover, Volkswagen will roll out eight more Inside the Academy webisodes, for a total of 18 in the series that launched in December.

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