Hispanic Creative Ad Awards 2009

Courageous Clients: Steve Neder

General Manager-Brand Strategy, Media, Retail Marketing And Hispanic, Volkswagen of America

By Published on .

DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- In a world full of nervous car marketers who insist on testing launch ads, Volkswagen's Steve Neder is a breath of fresh air.

Steve Neder
Steve Neder
The self-described "active client" directed his U.S. Hispanic shop CreativeOnDemand to find a unique positioning for the new Routan minivan true to the VW brand, and to generate consideration, sales and excitement in a slowing segment perceived as boring.

The research included interviews in core markets with Hispanic minivan owners and prospects, trial clinics with the Routan and the agency's online consumer panel. The findings: chaos rules inside vehicles on family outings, contrary to the happy serenity competitors' campaigns show, says Mr. Neder, who is 47 and the father of two teenage boys.

So, he says, the theme of the creative brief was how the minivan could help "managing mayhem."

The integrated Spanish-language blitz was later used in English for the general market, and the mayhem-filled TV spots "Spill" and "Frog" won a silver campaign prize and silver and bronze award for the individual spots.

Mr. Neder said initial sales of the minivan to Hispanics were higher than VW's overall Hispanic sales (9.6% of all VW sales are to Hispanics, while the industry average is 4.5%, he says). COD often creates both Spanish and English-language versions to target the fast-growing bicultural Hispanic market, too.

Daniel Marrero, a partner at COD, praises Mr. Neder and his team for their "deep and sincere respect for the Hispanic consumer." He said the client's "trust in our work and willingness to push boundaries is what has allowed us to make this iconic brand even more relevant to Hispanic consumers during our seven-year relationship."

And it's a relationship that isn't under review, unlike the general market account, previously handled by Crispin Porter & Bogusky.

Mr. Neder joined VW's Chicago region in 1984 as a customer service rep, then worked in various markets. The year he spent in South Florida and nine years in Los Angeles exposed him to Hispanic culture and improved his Spanish.

Now Mr. Neder will be working with COD to shift the VW brand beyond quirky, as the automaker aims to significantly beef up its total annual U.S. sales to 600,000 units in the next few years.

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