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VW Axes Traditional Car Ads for New Media

Volkswagen NA has turned another corner in its quest to turn traditional marketing programs upside down. Following up on its successful FAST campaign, VW has upped the ante with a new multimedia program called “VDUBSROCK.” While it’s too early to know if the program will be a success, there’s no doubt it is establishing the importance of community marketing and new media in the sales process.


Buy a Guitar, Get a Car… Reminiscent of Buy a Bike, Get a Jetta – Jetta Trek
The VW program promotes an unusual opportunity. Purchase one of four VW models (GTI, New Beetle, Jetta, and Rabbit), and get a new guitar – and not just any guitar, either. The First Act Garage Master guitar includes a built-in pre-amp, so you can plug the axe into your new car and literally play along with music in the car.

At first glance, the idea of getting a free guitar with a car might sound silly, and until sales results come in, we can only guess – but it sure is an attention-grabber. More to the point, there are statistiics to back up VW’s new guitar ‘n car program: Approximately 50% of all males (in the U.S) between the ages of 18 and 50 have a guitar, and the guitar is the most desired musical instrument for men, both among players and non-players (source: japan-guide, classical guitar, wikipedia). NOTE: Worldwide, the piano is still the most popular musical instrument overall. Editor’s Note: Do you believe this statistic? I don’t!

Unique Media Mix
What makes the VW program so interesting is the combination of media used to sell cars. Television ads are combined with a unique website ( – separate from the corporate VW site – plus a guitar playing contest. Make your own guitar-shredder movie and upload it for free to the VDUBSROCK website – and then let the public vote on the best Slash impersonation (guitar hero Slash is featured in the TV ads, as are other star axemen). The website is completely built using Adobe Flash – is highly animated, includes music, streaming video, and links to a variety of other VW-related sites.


VW is spending quite a bit of money on this program – the investment in the website, television and even the guitars (built by First Act in Boston, MA), is substantial. At the same time, the program includes some of the elements found in YouTube, the free movie distribution website that was purchased by Google last week for one-point-six billion dollars. VW is guessing that if YouTube can get 100 million people A DAY to watch videos, then they can get a fraction of that number to get motivated to buy a car because the company is promoting a fun lifestyle.
You might think this is all nonsense, but if you do, you’re probably over 40 years of age and not VW’s target audience. You might think this is totally cool and if so, well, you know how old you are.
Volkswagen Jetta, Golf, Rabbit, New Beetle – Lifestyle Opportnity
One thing is for certain: millions upon millions of people in the US are making purchase decisions based on lifestyle and “coolness” and based on that alone, VW is using the web, music, streaming video, and TV to collaborate with young people to create a lifestyle purchase opportunity. By the way, VW is keeping its other programs in play, including its FAST program and its JOYRIDE program. When VW of America ditched its long-time agency Arnold Worldwide for upstart Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the idea was to reinvent VW advertising with new media. We’ll keep tabs on VW sales for OCT and NOV and see if this program spikes of goes flat. Either way, it gives a new definition to Rock ‘N Roll.


  • The Road Reporter| November 20, 2006 at 11:44 pm

    And I thought these marketing style would be so cheesy. Seems I was wrong. Loved the guitar nevertheless.

  • David Barrett| October 19, 2006 at 4:00 pm

    Pat Cummings, CEO of Brian Moore Guitar ( has done extensive research (individual, not independent) and has determined that pre-amp-based guitars are rapidly growing in popularity. In additinon, his research, presented to the organization that monitors the music retail industry, NAMM, supports the Guitar as the most popularly desired and owned instrument among males in the United States. It will be interesting to see what VW is able to accomplish.

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