VW REVS UP NEW FLIGHT OF ITS LOW-KEY, EVERYDAY LIFE ADS: SPOT FOR '99 GOLF SHOWS 3 GUYS MOVING A MATTRESS

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New TV spots from Volkswagen of America for its 1999 models don't discuss a laundry list of car features or benefits. Those sorts of details are left for print ads.

Instead, commercials for the VW Jetta, Passat and Golf are meant to show how the cars are natural extensions of people's lives, said Liz Vanzura, director of marketing and advertising.

The auto marketer will launch the redesigned '99 Golf hatchback March 8 on broadcast and cable TV. And the spot, from Arnold Communications, Boston, shows three guys trying to move a mattress on a busy city street.

GRANDPA DOES VEGAS

A second spot for the redesigned '99 Jetta sedan broke last week, and it shows a retired man sneaking out of a nursing home so his grandson can drive him to Las Vegas.

VW spent $84.4 million in measured media in the first half of 1998, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

"VW doesn't have to get into features because it's figured out what branding means," said John Slaven, a former VW marketing executive who now heads a consultancy bearing his name.

"The whole world seems to be talking about brand, but other car manufacturers have a dismal interpretation of what that means," he added. "VW has pulled that off."

Each of the two VW spots will be the marque's exclusive advertising for two weeks before going into rotation along with ads for the Passat.

VW's current TV buy is a split of 60% cable and 40% broadcast network, said Ms. Vanzura.

Print ads for all the cars tout standard features for each vehicle.

PROMISING PLACEMENTS

VW also is getting back in the product-placement business. Last year it signed Pier III Entertainment, Century City, Calif., to evaluate proposals from TV and movie executives. And the relationship has resulted in several prominent placements, said Clark Campbell, promotions manager at VW.

For example, Drew Carey's vehicle this season on his ABC show is a Beetle, and Brooke Shields of NBC's "Suddenly Susan" bought a Beetle in a recent episode.

On April 17, VW will sponsor "After Fest," a Hollywood trade event where up-and-coming actors meet studio staff. Radio and newspaper ads will promote VW as the

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