Sports and entertainment tentpole events are hot sponsorship properties, more so if the prospect is a younger buyer. Volkswagen of America, in effort to reach that demographic for its Jetta sedan, has partnered with E! Entertainment for a wraparound content play that gives the automaker a presence around five awards shows this year: The Golden Globes, SAGs, Grammys, Academy Awards, and Emmys.
Central to the program is a 60-second vignette series starring "Fashion Police" George Kotsiopoulos, in which a police-themed Jetta serves as his "squad car." The vignettes have Kotsiopoulos driving the streets of L.A., cruising through the city's glitterati habitués like Beverly Hills and Wilshire, looking for fashion faux pas fauna. The Fashion Squad teasers and spots will air in pods leading up to and during the award nights for each show.
Two ads, part of the Jetta ad mix launched last year, will be shown during the Golden Globes and SAG awards on Jan. 27. The Jetta Hybrid will be featured in a :30 spot during the Grammys. The Hybrid will also be featured in a spot leading up to the Academy Awards.
Kevin Mayer, VP of marketing at Herndon, Va.-based Volkswagen of America, tells Marketing Daily that the venture will hit a golden seam in the consumer mining business since 18-to-34 year olds are hard to reach to start with, and especially hard to reach via television. "But they are very engaged with awards shows; they have parties around them, and they like the red-carpet ritual." Volkswagen does, in fact, get some logo visibility (though not vehicles) on the shows' crimson causeways.
Mayer says the automaker will have seven total ad units in the shows. The vignettes themselves are assimilated into the show broadcasts, notes Mayer. The segments are introduced by E! News anchor Giuliana Rancic, while the Jetta gets attention beyond being festooned with police-style bubble lights and paint, per Mayer. He says Kotsiopoulos will subtly tout the car by pointing out feature elements as part of the flow of the show. "It's roughly scripted, but they also went with it. It's really Volkswagen style meets Hollywood style, so they touch on affordability, features and and style."
The partnership includes a Volkswagen presence on E! Online during awards’ season. "Digital is a big part of strategy when we get into something like this; we really try to own it digitally, so the Fashion Squad has a robust presence on E!'s fashion site," says Mayer, adding that E!'s site has interactive elements like a "glam cam," 3D effect, where stars are on a rotating digital pedestal allowing viewers to see their attire from all sides. "So what's great is that they have a lot of our product content on their Web site, and Volkswagen has Fashion Squad [content] on ours." Meanwhile, Volkswagen will be back for category exclusive sponsorship of Discovery's Shark Week and a few others, per Mayer.