Volkswagen is launching "Think Blue," a campaign intended to set a new tone for the automaker around green mobility and the idea that the automaker is thinking beyond the car. The program is, in some senses, similar to BMW's recently announced program with New York City's Guggenheim Museum to cultivate a holistic thought-leadership program. But Volkswagen's effort includes a new relationship with a different modern-art museum, located a bit downtown and on the other end of Central Park: the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
The effort is timed with the inauguration of the automaker's new plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., which VW says is one of the greenest automotive factories in the world. It presages "Blue Motion," which (like BMW i, BMW's own urban mobility sub-brand) will be a new-technology division devoted to developing and producing alternative transportation products.
Volkswagen's new multi-year program with MoMA, "International Discovery," includes an exhibition of contemporary art at the museum's PS1 facility in Brooklyn, sponsorship of MoMA's online education program, and contribution of two video works by artist Francis Alys. The company will also sponsor a series of installations in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden.
In a statement, Jonathan Browning, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, said, "Think Blue" is about taking a holistic approach to sustainability that includes manufacturing at one end of the spectrum and art and culture on the other.
"On the one hand, the new Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga demonstrates just how eco-friendly and resource-saving automobile production can be today. And on the other, we are seeking to intensify our dialog with art and society on key issues of the future through our cooperation with MoMA," he said.
From a media perspective, the effort starts with print ads, online publicity and billboards around MoMA and the new plant in Chattanooga and then a national corporate "Think Blue" campaign.
The company said in a statement that the "Think Blue" name is intended to evoke the "Think Small" VW slogan from the 1960s. The automaker says the two efforts are connected, as "Think Small" was meant to tout the Beetle as a car that democratized auto mobility while "the challenge of the future lies in making efficient and sustainable mobility accessible to everyone."
As part of the effort, the company is running a long-form animated video on YouTube that elaborates on the holistic idea of "Think Blue" and the viral nature of ideas in urban settings in general. The video, in shades of blue, features images of people going about their lives in a cyanic metropolis. The animation, set to music, has the people trailing thought and speech balloons -- initially random, but as the video progresses and more and more people interact, the buzz becomes about conservation.
The video employs hieroglyphs both for the balloons and for objects that show things like CO2 emissions from cars, and peoples' thoughts and conversations about recycling, waste, and conservation.
At one point, viewers see a mother and daughter strolling the sidewalk. In the girl's balloon is an ice-cream cone. Then she sees water spilling from a gutter spout and she and her mother "converse" about water conservation. A kid's paper airplane lands on a woman's desk in an office building and inspires her to turn off fans, open windows and use less electricity.
Volkswagen teased the "Blue Motion" sub-brand with the reveal of its XL1 concept at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this year.