Volkswagen and Achtung! Build The Most Social Car Ever

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If Volkswagen and Facebook had a love child, what would it look like? Dutch agency Achtung! puts an end to the mystery with its new digital-meets-the-real-world campaign for VW. The Fanwagen campaign invites fans to vote on Facebook for their favorite classic VW model -- the T1 Camper or the Beetle -- for a chance to score the car that wins. But the car itself will be tricked out with some very special social media amenities: a corkboard Wall that shows off your friends, the ability to display -- and change -- your relationship status via your license plate, privacy settings in the form of adjustable curtains on the windows and a built-in printer that will spit out the latest status updates off your Feed. The sheet metal too will also feature some familiar stylings, painted in a bright white and blue.

The brief was to increase social media engagement for Volkswagen in the Netherlands. Until this campaign came along, the brand had mostly been posting spots and pictures of its cars. Achtung! got the assignment to come with a campaign that would increase the number of fans on its Facebook page.

"What we really didn't want to do is make [the car] hi-tech, since slick would not fit the concept at all," said Mervyn ten Dam, creative director and owner of Achtung!

To promote the effort, Achtung! teamed with graphic design company Dog and Pony and programmers B-Lex and ThisPageCannotBeFound. The campaign features a whimsical and classic 3D stop motion video showing off the social media-driven vehicle.

Real 1:24 models for the cars were used for the video, with other features like the "thumbs up" modeled in 3D computer graphics. The video lives on the page and invites fans to like their favorite model. Once 20,000 "Likes" are reached, the winning car will be posted, along with a countdown. When time is up, the first person to click on the car wins it. The T1 Camper currently leads, with two-thirds of the vote.

Once a winner is declared, Kaagkever, a custom body shop, will get to work, customizing the car to the winner's Facebook profile. Achtung! was involved in every part of the process, from colors, features and materials used.

Facebook Workaround
While the campaign seems to have Facebook written all over it, Zuckerbergian promotional limitations posed some of the effort's more complicated challenges. Initially, Facebook in the Netherlands was ready for a large-scale collaboration, but "the 'official' partnership got stuck at Palo Alto, where the amount of lawyers seemed larger than the programmers," said Mr. ten Dam. Facebook declined comment.

Without the social media site as an official partner, Achtung forged ahead with the idea, with some minor tweaks. "Facebook blue" is replaced by a slightly different shade to paint the classic cars and the "thumbs up" is different from the "Like" icon. "Zuckerberg silver," however, is still being used, since that's not a trademark. "Still, [Facebook] approved more than disapproved," said Mr. ten Dam.

The campaign doubled the amount of fans for the brand page in four days, and reached 1.5 million people through Twitter. The best part was, Mr. ten Dam said, that it fits in nicely with Volkswagen's existing brand proposition. "Both [Facebook and Volkswagen] start from a social principle, with Volkswagen meaning 'people's car'," said Mr. ten Dem. "What is more social than combining the two together?"

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