VW Apparently Doing Some Things Right

Despite Loud Criticism of Crispin Work, Sales and Buzz Are Both on The Rise

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- After a disastrous, money-losing 2005, Volkswagen of America's sales jumped 20% in the first four months of this year, and at least some of the credit has to go to Crispin Porter & Bogusky and its much-maligned ads for the brand.
Volkswagen's 'Get to Know Your Fast' campaign has generated controversy and buzz.
Volkswagen's 'Get to Know Your Fast' campaign has generated controversy and buzz.

The Miami agency's controversial "Get to know your fast," "Unpimp mein auto" and Jetta crash ads, developed under the baton of Brand Innovation Director Kerri Martin, have surely created buzz. "VW has always been at its best when we make people think," said Ms. Martin. And certainly she did that this time around, with the ads broadly slammed by an industry that still hankers after some of Arnold Worldwide's famed VW work.

Industry critics aside, the ads seem to be having an impact. It's not just the sales data that would suggest Crispin is on the right track. Of 400-plus consumers CNW recently surveyed, roughly 30% said the Jetta TV spots of drivers and passengers surviving sudden crashes was enough to make them consider a VW.

Of course, the cars themselves take a lot of the credit, too. Auto-industry experts said the automaker's long-awaited, redone models probably account for a large part of the sales spike to 73,824 units early this year. "VW sales are up because consumers want and will buy anything new that's well done," said Art Spinella, president of consultant CNW Marketing Research.

Wes Brown, analyst at consultant Iceology, noted that "Passats are selling like crazy" in 2006-without any advertising. "It is the fact that it's a new product." The month-old Jetta blitz hasn't been out long enough to affect sales, he said.

The automaker this week, however, breaks its Passat campaign. The spots show drivers in other German makes of automobiles shouting phrases out their windows into megaphones like "Because I make more money than you" and "Because I'm compensating for my shortcomings." The tagline is "The lowest-ego emissions of any German-engineered sedan."
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