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The ad is media trickery — the idea should actually create attention in an endearing way, such that the route embellishes the brand’s core personality
The Volkswagen dudes and their ad agency partners will celebrate tonight. At having launched their Vento with a kick-arse media innovation: the little audio contraption placed inside The Times of India that 'speaks' to the readers. Not only will this gimmick get the car to be talked about hectically, as people discuss this media 'innovation' offline and online, but will result in some glittering Indian ad awards (quite likely… Indian ad award juries are highly suspect in any case).
Here's the thing: On every single count, this media trickery is highly repugnant. Getting instant attention cannot be the sole purpose of advertising. Even terrorists with their RDX and prostitutes with their garish make-up get instant attention. The idea must ALWAYS be to get attention in an endearing way, and in a way that the route embellishes the brand's core personality.
In that context, it's highly disappointing to see makers of the high-tech German engineered cars, the much respected Volkswagen guys, indulge in such a cheap ploy. We associate class with Volkswagen, that's what we buy into. But what they have done with this irritating, intrusive toy, is to come across as makers of Rajnigandha pan masala. Or Zandu Balm. What that does to their carefully crafted brand personality, is for the German engineers to think about. What I do now know is this: Volkswagen Vento is a totally down-market car. It's off my shopping cart.
On another front, the so-called innovation is not even crafted with some degree of intelligence. It's a boring, non-stop chatter from a sleepy voice, that pretty much translates what the ad is already saying. Now if my newspaper has to play the role of a radio in my life (eeeeks!), the least it must do is to entertain me. And since the Volkswagen suits want their car to be the Zandu Balm of the category, the least they ought to have done is to compose a special 'Munni Badnaam' Vento jingle. Would have been fun, yaar!
Another problem: What about the issue of cost spill-over? For a luxury sedan, isn't The Times of India, a mass paper, a waste of the ad rupee? Wouldn't this gimmick have been more suitable for, say, The Economic Times? Or one of those many auto mags? To some extent, one may have accepted it if a Santro or a Swift had taken this massy TOI route. So this lowly trick doesn't even make media spend sense.
Finally, and on a separate note, here's another larger worry: Netas like Mayawati, Raj Thackeray and Dr Manmohan Singh will surely latch on to this nuisance. Imagine waking up to them speaking into your ears as you reach out for your morning cuppa. Already the future of newspapers is in peril. This sort of an outrageous invention will only help accelerate that process.
Net-net: A media innovation idea that went horribly wrong. I need some Zandu Balm on the head to cool off.