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Thursday, May 04, 2006


VW Unpimp Your Ride Ads Unpimping Sales?

Recently, I've read heavy criticism from Ad experts like Rance Crain of AdAge regarding Crispin Porter's Unpimp your ride tv spots.

"VW has already started its retreat by pulling its high-priced Phaeton off the U.S. market. The Crispin Porter ads are so horrendously awful that they smooth the way for a quick and complete withdrawal, saving the company a ton of money.

In a previous column I asked if Crispin Porter has what it takes to develop a strong selling idea that cuts across all demographics.

Well, we now see it's got the villain/thug/psycho segment locked up, but that's all part of the plan for leave-the-country baddom."
Mmmm...somehow, I don't think CPB was targeting Rance with these ads. I happen to think the ads are hilarious and have received serious attention across the net by the target audience. People are actually talking about the ads. Can't say that about a single Toyota ad...but that hasn't really hurt their sales, now has it? In fact, as a former ad guy, I'd venture to say the ads have done a great job of positioning VW GTI has the original, original pocket rocket. No need for enhancements...

To blame VW's flagging fortunes on an ad, or worse, suggest that an ad agency could prevent the collapse of a brand is, frankly, laughable and one of the many reasons I left the bloated, vapid, self-important ad business. In the car business, no ad is going to save a flailing buggy whip company (or, for that matter, car company). Pray tell, oh, ad geniuses...what ads will save GM or Ford? The answer is ads about really, really good cars and trucks. But to do those...you need...ahem...really good cars and trucks. Not the other way around.

Cars aren't chiclets. You don't chew on them and then spit them out when the taste is gone. You don't buy them on a whim , like that Snickers bar winking at you at the Kroger's check out counter. Ok, so there are a few that can buy on a whim, but unless you wear an Ascot or go fox hunting and have servants that address you after bowing, $20-$30,000 purchases are rarely executed on an air of caprice (for those of you following the cliff's notes, I stole that quote from S. J. Perelman). Consumers buy them and consume them every day for 3-8 years after agonizing, desperately over blue vs. black, sunroof, no sunroof, and going dealer to dealer for as much as a month, or the gestation period of a marsupial (koala bear gestation period is 35 days).

The question, as posed by one intelligent blogger is simple. What was the point of these ads?

So, before we blame VW's market share issues on a few spots, poking fun at the competition, let's remember that VW's real problems are really around product and quality. Checked the latest quality ratings? Not much Crispin Porter can do about those...

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