BEIJING (AdAgeChina.com) -- Best known for the cars it produces in China, Volkswagen Group is also finding a niche market there with imports of the famous New Beetle.
The New Beetle is especially popular among young mothers in tier one cities who want to feel youthful and creative. To bond with those consumers, VW is running a contest until mid-October to let them experience and interact with the brand on a playful web site, www.newbeetle.com.cn.
Scored with a happy, clapping tune, the site is set in a colorful Never Never Land, said Gina Sim, creative director of OgilvyOne Worldwide, Beijing, the agency that created the site for VW.
The site steers visitors to a car sticker design competition. Using a palette of tools on the site, surfers can decorate the silhouette of a New Beetle car using paint colors and decals, and submit their creation to a contest that will award eight Apple laptop computers as prizes.
VW will decorate eight New Beetle cars with the winning designs and display them in a road show to first and second tier cities such as Hangzhou and Guangzhou.
"A lot of sites have tried painting online, but usually it's damn difficult. With this contest, we wanted to make it easy. You can't make the car look bad, it's just so easy," Ms. Sim said.
The competition, called "Let Your Creative Genius Shine," started Sept. 15 and will runs until Oct. 15, 2009. VW received 2,448 entries on the first day, and had 8,942 submissions by Sept. 23.
To drive traffic, posters are displayed on college campuses and in dealer showrooms, and online ad banners posted on popular Chinese portals such as MSN's Chinese site, Sina.com and Sohu.com, and video-sharing sites Youku.com and Tudou.com.
OgilvyOne develops below-the-line marketing for the New Beetle in China, and advertising is created by DMG Group, an independent agency in China that works with several VW brands. Mediacom handles media planning and buying.
The whimsical site isn't just about fun and games.
The German car maker is eager to create a buzz that will drive more consumers to visit Volkswagen's New Beetle dealerships in China, adding fuel to its momentum there.
Volkswagen's sales in the world's largest car market rose by 22.7% year-on-year in the first half of 2009, and it is widely expected to sell over one million units in China this year, setting a new record in that market.
VW won't release sales for the New Beetle in China, where the car was introduced in 2002, but "certainly it's a growth market for every brand they have. When the economic situation in most countries is so dreary, they are looking to China to balance out poor sales in other countries," said Doug Schiff, exec creative director at OgilvyOne, Beijing.
VW has turned to art to promote New Beetle in China before. Two years ago, VW promoted its status as the automobile partner of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing by supporting the Art Beijing 2007 Contemporary Art Expo.
The show included an exhibit of works with the VW Beetle as the canvas. Volkswagen displayed twelve New Beetle models created by participants of Vmagination, its online Olympic art car design contest that drew over 3,200 Chinese designs created with a sophisticated online painting tool.
Last year, VW and DMG did a print campaign by DMG that juxtaposed classic and modern interpretations of fashion styles. In one version, a young Chinese woman dressed in a classic Qi Pao dress from the 1930s stands opposite another woman wearing a more contemporary and sexy version of the same dress. Another ad shows a traditional Chinese chair opposite a more modern chair design. The third presented the classic, original Beetle opposite the new 2008 model.
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