Spotlight: Volkswagen

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Client: Volkswagen

Agency: Grey Worldwide, Beijing

Volkswagen enlists China's mountain-climbing property tycoon to extol rugged virtues of peaks and cars

[Beijing] VW tackled the clutter of car ads aimed at busy Chinese executives in the world's fastest-growing auto market with a celebrity endorsement of the newly launched Touareg sport utility vehicle's power and performance-plus a lot of talk about mountain climbing. The unconventional infotainment spot by Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide, Beijing, is six minutes long.

Now the world's No. 3 automaker, China's SUV sales are forecast to grow 20% a year through 2010.

The scenic film shows the Touareg traversing rivers and inching up mountain peaks. The voice-over is by entrepreneur Wang Shi, China's more athletic version of Donald Trump. Mr. Wang is chairman of real estate developer Vanke Group, a Grey China client, and an experienced mountain climber who has ascended Mount Everest. When his safety ropes snapped on one climb, he says in the film, "I was trapped between cliffs on one side and huge cracks in the ice on the other. Without a rope, it seemed impossible to cross, but I knew I had to try. ...The only way to survive was to rely on myself."

Never mentioning VW's SUV by name, Mr. Vanke in the spot drives his own Touareg around China's rugged countryside while praising the virtues of "passion" and "aspiration."

"He is one of the most influential people in China and is known as a visionary in the Chinese community," said Viveca Chan, Grey's chairman-CEO, China & Hong Kong.

The commercial is running at VW dealerships and auto shows. Ms. Chan said it will air on TV "as special programming, not as a regular TV buy." Print ads are running in business titles.