Volks­wagen Tiguan launch

Last year Volks­wagen launched the all-new Tiguan in Germany with the support of a large scale ad campaign. However, the Volks­wagen team was concerned that a funny online video might strike the wrong note in the aftermath of the emissions scandal. Rather than risk a negative backlash or not use the video, they decided to test it. The results were positive and the ad went viral.

You can watch the video here and I am sure you will find it just as funny as I did. However, given the circum­s­tances the Volks­wagen team was right to be concerned about using it. Unlike a tradi­tional broadcast campaign focused on the attri­butes of the new vehicle, a funny online video might spark a negative viral reaction if people do not respond to it as intended. So Volks­wagen turned to Kantar Millward Brown to answer this question and two others relevant ones:

  • “Is the funny approach appro­priate at this time?”
  • “Does the creative idea fit to Volks­wagen at all?”
  • “Does the story overs­hadow commu­ni­cation of the key benefit?”

From my point of view the second one is parti­cu­larly important since a video is unlikely to do much for the brand if people do not remember which brand is featured.

The problem for the Kantar Millward Brown team in Germany was that there was not much time before the video went live, so they used our automated Express Pre-Test to ensure the results were available quickly. This is a version of our LinkNow test but which has been adapted speci­fi­cally for automotive pre-testing, with bench­marking against other automotive ads (now more than 20,000 ads tested in over 20 countries). Confir­mation, test material and commu­ni­cation goals were received at 6pm and results were available at 9am the next day, 15 hours from start to finish.

More important than speed of delivery, was the nature of the results. The video proved to be one of the best automotive videos ever tested, scoring signi­fi­cantly above average on key criteria like enjoyment, brand fit and brand appeal. As a result, Volks­wagen released the video on Youtube.de where it was watched over 2 million times and uploaded by others. The video’s success prompted Volks­wagen to use it on TV, and at last count the video had received over 36 million views across all platforms.

Thanks to Christian Ludwig who prepared the case study and obtained permission from Volks­wagen to share it here. I believe the case study demons­trates a great use of automated pre-testing. Why take a risk on what the audience response might be when you can check that response quickly and cost effec­tively? Yes, you can get a quick read from the ratings on YouTube but if the reaction is negative it is likely too late to put the genie back in the bottle, the video will likely have been copied and shared. Previously it would have been almost impos­sible to get feedback in less than a day but that is not the case any longer. So, if in doubt, why not test it?