VW Takes A Stab At Polling To Engage A Younger Consumer

VWVolkswagen of America, Inc. has been supporting its populist "give the people what they want" tone with an interactive campaign.

The national polling program via GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media isn't about politics, but rather about preferences. The effort supports VW's ad platform, "Das Auto," featuring a talking vintage Beetle. It allows people to vote online and via mobile, and also to enter issues on which to vote. The effort is centered at vw.com/whatthepeoplewant.

The company says it has garnered 666,375 issues such as whether people like to take the soap and shampoo bottles from hotel rooms; ice cream cones versus cups; reality television versus ... maybe reality.

At the Web site, Max the talking Beetle invites consumers to vote. People can also buy customizable T-shirts displaying polls of their choice and who submitted it.



The company has an interactive display in New York City's Times Square, where consumers can participate in live polling through the giant multimedia board there, via text-messaging "yea" or "nay."

Poll results will also be dynamically displayed via Web banners after any poll reaches 1,000 votes. These banners will be placed in topically relevant places, such as near a news article that relates to the poll's subject.

The company is also doing a music-centric version on Pandora.com through next week, wherein people can vote on VW's music playlists.

Aaron Bragman, research analyst with Lexington, Mass.-based Global Insight, says VW--which has dealt with musical chairs in its marketing suite--is still scrambling for a consistent message. "They have some mild success, but are still trying to find the way back to the successful marketing they had last decade with programs like 'Drivers Wanted.' They are dealing with mixed marketing messages, partly due to a lot of leadership changes."

Bragman says the brand is trying to juxtapose a young-skewing, value-oriented message, although their models tend to be priced more in the near-premium range. "Consumers have been confused by $50,000 SUVs, $16,000 Rabbits, and luxury sedans. "[VW is] still struggling to find the right marketing message--and product--for the U.S."

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