VW looks to The Beatles to launch new Beetle

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DUESSELDORF -- German car manufacturer Volkswagen is calling on the remaining members of the Beatles, the British band that took the world by storm in the 60s, to promote the modern version of its Beetle car. The Beetle, which is the world's best-selling car, similarly had its heyday in the 60s.

Marketing strategy for the new-look Beetle is to be unveiled at a press conference in Atlanta, Georgia, on February 11, though details of any tie-up with the three surviving members of the "Fab Four" are unlikely to be furnished at that date.

"We have just started talking to the Beatles," admits a VW spokeswoman. But, she adds: "Nothing has been decided yet on how they will and can help us to promote the Beetle."

Linking with bands is a favored marketing tactic with VW. In 1992, it tied with Genesis and Phil Collins; in 1993 with Pink Floyd; in 1995 with the Rolling Stones and in 1996 with Bon Jovi.

In most cases, VW promoted its association with the bands with huge concerts advertised in TV and print ads. But its Bon Jovi tie-in went further, involving the release of special edition Bon Jovi cars with the band's branding on the back.

No concert from the now middle-aged Beatles Sir Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr is planned to support the relaunched Beetle. The group disbanded long ago and is now missing prodigious singer/songwriter John Lennon.

VW has told the German press that it plans to market the new Beetle as a "cult car".

Copyright January 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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