From CP+B and VW, Hidden Cams in a NYC Cab

In the catalog of VW-made compact cars from the 70s, the Rabbit may not be as iconic a vehicle as the Beetle was, but that doesn’t mean a reborn version of it won’t hop off dealer lots.

At least that’s what the carmaker hopes as it prepares to re-release the bunny in 2007. As part of its early marketing efforts for the model, creative agency of record Crispin Porter + Bogusky has launched a video-rich site meant to engage Web users and position the Rabbit as an ideal vehicle for city drivers.

The Gypsy Cab Project centers around Steve, “a filmmaker from Colorado who has never driven in New York,” and his task of driving around the city in a Rabbit fitted out like a cab while offering free rides to strangers. The project, the goal of which is to pick up 100 fares in two weeks, describes itself as “an attempt to uncover and document (on hidden cameras) all the things that make urban driving truly unique.”

Via two dashboard-mounted cameras, voyeuristic site visitors can watch Steve’s “favorite fares,” including two girls from Switzerland freewheeling around the city and a West Virginia family whose patriarch spits tobacco juice out the window.

“This is a cultural experiment to learn about city driving,” said CP+B Creative Director Rob Strasberg, who added that the effort has received minimal promotional support. “We’re running ads in NYC pubs like TimeOut and on Web banners. Mostly it’s word of mouth and word of Web.”

Since the project started, CP+B has hired Steve as an in-house director, editor and “comedian.” The company discovered him after learning of his Denver cable access TV show, in which he interviewed local people of interest in his pick-up.

And what of the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission? Did it have any objection to the project? Not a problem, said Strasberg. “The rides were for free so there wasn’t any conflict.”

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