To celebrate Volkswagen's 50 years as a beloved brand in Mexico, eight-year-old Arrechedera Claverol, one of the first of Mexico City's wave of independent shops, went way beyond asking fans to send in favorite stories about VWs they had owned in their lives. That online, TV, radio print and out-of-home campaign was just the starting point. After sifting through 8,500 stories and picking the best six, the agency sent a team out to hunt for the original cars, then hired a team of specialists to restore them to the condition they were in when each owner last saw the car.
Agency founder Juan Claverol said five cars were restored, and the sixth former owner had such a touching story that "We just gave him a brand new Volkswagen Golf."
The campaign "The Volkswagen of Your Life" turned into a six-part reality show, with a weekly 24-minute episode broadcast on the TV Azteca network for each of the six stories, including surprising each owner by delivering the car they had rhapsodized about in their entries but never expected to see again. One family had lived in their Volkswagen for months after a devastating earthquake in Mexico City. The campaign's website registered more than 420,000 visits and the YouTube channel got more than 420,000 views.
When Arrechedera Claverol isn't fending off offers to buy the 90-person agency, Mr. Claverol said they also work with clients including Lenovo computers for Latin America, Bacardi, Bimbo bread and insurance company AXA.
Founders Sebastian Arrechedera, a Venezuelan, and Mr. Claverol, who is from Argentina, worked together for years at Volkswagen's agency DDB Mexico, where Mr. Arrechedera was chief creative officer and Mr. Claverol was VP for client service. They were joined last year by Miquel Daura, a Spaniard who was a partner and general manager at the Mexico office of DoubleYou, a leading agency in Spain, and is now CEO of Arrechedera Claverol.
Mr. Arrechedera, who was a judge in the film category at this year's Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, is also a social activist. Last year he started El Efecto Eco, or the Echo Effect, after the government in his native Venezuela censored mass media during a period of great turmoil, violence and protests, leaving the victims only cellphones and social media to get the word out. The idea was for people to pick up the tweet or post of a victim of violence, repeat the words themselves in a video, and post it to social media, along with the Echo Effect logo. The effort took off when Mexican celebrities echoed and posted the earlier tweets of Venezuelan students who had just been killed in protests.
With no paid media, the Echo Effect continued to be amplified around the world, with 108,000 Twitter followers and 2.7 million YouTube views, according to a case study by Arrechedera Claverol. And Venezuela's vice-president angrily denounced the Echo Effect in a press conference.