Tuesday, November 24, 2009

VW's Sports Marketing: Targeted, Focused and Relentless

“If I get it in, do I win the car?” We were outside Qwest Stadium in Seattle, just before the Major League Soccer (MLS) playoffs between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City (the latter won). In a huge Volkswagen “activation” area, people were lining up to try and land a basket inside the sunroof of a VW Tiguan SUV. But no, the promotion—designed to showcase the size of the car’s sunroof—did not result in their winning the car. Instead, they walked away with VW-branded merchandise, like t-shirts and rain ponchos (it was Seattle). Many of the sports fans had even more reason to love VW: If they were driving one, they got free parking at the stadium.

Tim Ellis is director of marketing at VW, and he favors an aggressive approach that will help the brand achieve its extremely ambitious expansion plans. VW is the official automobile supplier of MLS, but that means a whole lot more than signage and a few commercials played during games. VW tries to plant its brand and image directly into the frontal lobes of sports fans through a truly hands-on approach that involves teams of subcontracted activation specialists not only following the MLS trail, but going to youth soccer events all over the country.

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