The Golden Sisters – Mary Bartnicki, Josie Cavaluzzi and Teresa Dahlquist – may not be new kids on the block, but they are Volkswagen's secret weapon. Rising to fame in 2013 with their YouTube videos took off, the siblings have capitalized on their ad-lib humor, snagging a reality show deal on The Oprah Winfrey Network and now starring in Volkswagen's "Old Wives Tales" campaign.
But Deutsch L.A. never imagined the videos, initially intended for the web only, to be as popular as they turned out, with hundreds of thousands of views. So it has taken the campaign, begun online at the end of February, to TV.
"There's a philosophy we have about making a lot of small bets," said Pete Favat, chief creative officer of Deutsch North America. "People set out to say 'Oh yeah this is going to blow up, and this is going to go viral, and a lot of people don't really go viral. So what we like to do is make a lot of small bets, and if a bet turns out to be working, then we double down on it. And I think that's what happened in this case."
Tasked with challenging the status quo around diesel, the six-spot campaign was named "Old Wives Tales," where the Golden Sisters, who are literally old wives, dispel myths like the notions that diesel is hard to find or smelly.
"They became kind of internet stars and a lot of people started paying attention to them," said Mr. Favat. "Quickly after that, we had this assignment from Volkswagen to talk about their TDI, their clean diesel line of automobiles."
Debunking myths around TDI cars is no new concept for Volkswagen. Jen Clayton, general manager, marketing communications for Volkswagen, said the car company "broached this subject before several years ago," but wanted to "take another crack at it."
"We wanted to take a more human and lighthearted approach to it, which is truer to our brand," Ms. Clayton said. Enter the sisters.
Only given a basic outline, the Golden Sisters follow intuition rather than script when filming, letting their charm and chemistry bring the concept to fruition.
"A script doesn't even do their humor justice because the chemistry between the three is pretty outrageous," Mr. Favat said. "They're sisters, so they've probably been acting this way their entire lives, so we gave them kind of a structure in which to go by and what to talk about and we worked within that structure."
Mr. Favat believes that the commercials work best when a young, good-looking man is the counterbalance for the ads. After quoting Mary's flirtatious line, "What kind of car do you like? New or many miles on it?" from the latest collaboration spot, Mr. Favat explained how most of the material is "only something they could say."
The first tale, "Sluggish," was released on TV in April and is running in select markets, targeting programs like "America's Got Talent." On July 7, the Golden Sisters returned for eight more ads, promoting Volkswagen's year-end sales events,which they comically refer to as the "rear end event."
While Volkswagen has no set plans to continue working with the Golden Sisters, the collaboration shows that comedy works at any age.
"I don't think we subscribe to the idea that just because they're old, they only appeal to an older market," Mr. Favat said. "People just relate to this humor, I mean they're just funny."