The national "Test drivers wanted" promotion is a "natural extension" of our "Drivers wanted" ad campaign, said Elisabeth Vanzura, VW advertising director. She declined to reveal spending.
Arnold Communications, Bos-ton, created four TV executions from the same basic footage featuring a key with a VW logo. Each ends with the new tag, but the word "test" is in a lighter color. Spots are airing nationally on network and cable TV, but spending will be heavier in spot markets, Ms. Vanzura said.
Print executions appear in local newspapers.
NEW EXECUTIONS COMING
Separate new executions using the "Drivers wanted" tag will break in the second quarter. A dealer who saw the new ads described them as "a little more humorous and adventurous" than earlier ones.
Maria Leonhauser, VW's director of public relations, said the ad budget will increase slightly more than the carmaker's projected 18% jump in 1997 unit sales.
"Our marketing expenses will go [up] along with sales, maybe a little higher," she said.
VW spent about $90 million on advertising last year.
Two executives close to the importer said VW's ad budget will be substantially higher; one said it could nearly double to about $180 million, though Ms. Leonhauser denied that.
As for this year's product lineup, in May VW starts selling the 1997 Jetta Trek and Golf Trek-the second year the carmaker has offered the combination mountain bike and bike-rack packages.
This fall, VW launches the fifth-generation Passat as a 1998 sedan and station wagon. Both are important vehicles because they re-emphasize VW's commitment to the midsize market, the company said.
VW's German parent has invited its 600 U.S. dealers to Europe to test-drive the new Passats in September. It's the first time in 16 years VW has made such an offer.