Encyclopedia of Major Marketing Campaigns
Developed by Thomas Riggs & Company, Missoula, Montana
Gale, second edition, 2006
“Even before the car went on sale, the New Beetle received a marketing boost over its competitors. Newspapers breathlessly anticipated its introduction, and several columnists wrote paeans to their first Beetles. An industry analyst noted to the Associated Press that ‘Volkswagen really won’t have to do much in marketing.’ But to meet its goals of selling 50,000 New Beetles in the United States in 1998 and bolstering Volkswagen’s overall sales, the company chose not to rely on hype and instead spent an estimated $40 million during the first eight months of the campaign. While some rival car companies released narrative campaigns that portrayed quirky characters or elaborate story lines, Volkswagen’s strategy for the New Beetle was to focus solely on the car. Advertising Age noted that the spots were a kind of ‘Rorschach ink blot [that allowed] each consumer [to] process the imagery and respond according to his own values, background, and personality.’
To take the campaign to the diverse audiences it wanted to reach, Volkswagen aired the ads during mainstream television shows and in publications that reached large numbers of consumers. But television shows that were popular with consumers under 30, such as The X-Files, Melrose Place, Seinfeld, and Suddenly Susan, were targeted as well in order to attract a Generation X audience. Print pieces ran in popular magazines such as Vanity Fair, as well as in more cutting-edge, niche publications like Wired. Volkswagen also displayed New Beetle ads on Yahoo!’s home page. With its billboards Volkswagen opted for a city-specific strategy. For instance, a New York outdoor ad offered a picture of the New Beetle with the wry comment ‘Just what New York needs, a car that stops traffic.’ In a further effort to gain the attention of Generation Xers, Volkswagen signed the New Beetle on as an official sponsor of the Lilith Fair musical tour, which, according to Shoot, was an event that ‘appeal[ed] to one of the Beetle’s target markets, young men and women.’” (Thomas Riggs & Company, Missoula, Montana).
Founded in 1995, Thomas Riggs & Company is a book developer and publisher based in Missoula, Montana. It has won numerous awards, including Booklist Editors’ Choice and the American Library Association’s RUSA.