Veedubu’s Quest for an Advertising Agency
The phone calls, emails, faxes, FedEx’s, snail mails to Roth Associates about getting on the long list, short list, any list to qualify for the Volkswagen account has to be almost as long as the line-up for free government money in the “Cash For Clunkers” program.
Any agency’s new biz veep (a position of limited duration) the committee members and top execs are literally frothing at the mouth with eager anticipation. Why? Because winning an automotive account was tantamount to climbing the Mount Everest of the industry. To the winner went the financial spoils along with accolades and awards of a major advertiser. That was the old business model.
Hey, people: VW has changed agencies twice in less than five years – something is amiss in Herndon, Virginia or more likely in Germany.
So Kerri Martin brought in one agency without a “review” – who cares, except those who weren’t invited to the dance. Hell, she’d used them at Mini with (most will admit) great success and as I recall from an interview with her at that time, the charge was “raise people’s attention and interest!” This is exactly what CPB did as most will recall.
Did I like their work? Some of it, but certainly not all it, especially the use of the former Mrs. Andre Agassi, the most recent talking bug, and the split costume ads, but in between were often campaigns and ads of real genius that did get people’s attention. Attention did translate to visits to dealers, but once inside there, there was a major void – no interesting products.
And it is product, which drives the creative to new heights of accomplishment especially in the automotive business. Some recent examples include Audi (a VW company) which had a rather poor public perception for many years following a “60 Minutes episode” about unintended acceleration but rebounded with outstanding vehicles backed with product driven advertising in the luxury field. Take this recent commercial. They too were an agency switcher a few years ago.
Of course, there are the Korean kissing cousins brands of Hyundai and Kia.
Hyundai once on the bottom of the JDP study list has literally knocked the industry on its smug butt by not only creating the Genesis, the recent Car of the Year then backing it first with great product based advertising, then using that as the umbrella for the Assurance Program and buck forty-nine gasoline. They too recently switched agencies for reasons not clearly detailed.
Kia, which once shared the poor quality image syndrome, changed that perception by offering a 100,000-mile guarantee to support the reliability claim. There it is again: product based creative. New and better products were introduced and supported with product and demographically focused ads for the new Soul(reviewed here a few weeks ago) with arresting quirky ads and the Forte – a sedan with nice features at a good price that was scarily honest.
The voiceover reveals Kia didn’t invent the engine, speed, satellite, safety features MP3 players, attention to details and other attributes, Kia just brought them “as standard features.”