Mumbai: It may just have two models in India, but German carmaker Volkswagen AG has embarked on a Rs40 crore ad campaign to build its brand in the run-up to its December launch of small car Beetle and sports utility vehicle Touareg and the January launch of another small car, the Polo.
Lutz Kothe, chief general manager (marketing and public relations), Volkswagen India said the firm won’t comment on its ad expenditure but admitted the media blitzkrieg was aimed at growing Volkswagen’s brand awareness. Even though the Passat was launched in 2007 and the Jetta in 2008, the brand awareness was inadequate, he added.
Volkswagen started off the campaign, “German Engineering, Made for India” on Wednesday with as many as 13 advertisements in English daily The Times of India (TOI). The print campaign talks about Volkswagen’s history and its car brands Jetta and Passat (already present in the Indian market).
The firm launched its TV campaign also on Wednesday. Its TV ad shows a boy in a Volkswagen showroom, planning car purchases for various stages of his life. He wants to pre-book a Beetle for his 18th birthday and a Jetta for the day he heads a large corporation.
Bobby Pawar, chief creative officer of Mudra Group that handles the advertising said while the so-called roadblock in TOI was about introducing Indian consumers to Volkswagen, the second leg of the print campaign would focus on product attributes of existing brands Jetta and Passat and new launches such as Beetle and Touareg. He said innovations (web banners and web specials) on mainline websites and billboards would be launched soon. A senior executive from one of the agencies handling the Volkswagen account in India said that the total size of the campaign was approximately Rs40 crore and the firm had budgeted Rs8-10 crore for print, Rs10 crore for outdoor and digital and Rs20 crore for TV ads.
“We’ve taken 17,692 television spots across 47 channels in 16 genres. We’ve booked 144 insertions in leading dailies and 50 insertions in magazines. In the out of home medium, we’ve booked 280 sites while in digital, we’ve booked 23 websites,” said Kothe.
He added that each car brand addresses different audiences and has a different brand positioning. “Beetle is positioned as the return of the legend, while Jetta focuses on dynamic performance. Passat is all about comfort and Touareg is about domination.”
Vaishali Jajoo, auto analyst of Angel Broking Ltd said these are early days for Volkswagen in India. The firm operates in “the premium cars segment, which accounts for barely 2% of overall car sales”, she added. According to industry body the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), Volkswagen India Pvt. Ltd sold 1,172 cars between April and October, while Mercedes Benz Pvt. Ltd sold 1869 cars in the same period and BMW India Pvt. Ltd sold 2089.
Sanjeev Shukla, general manager at Ford India Pvt. Ltd, said the Jetta and Passat clocked poor sales in October 2009 and the only reason why the firm launched its ad offensive is to prepare itself for the launch of Polo, poised as a mainstream car brand.
Media specialists from other agencies are awed with Volkswagen’s ad blast. Shashi Sinha, chief executive of Lodestar Universal Pvt. Ltd said it takes great guts to accomplish a roadblock of the kind taken on by the brand. “But I think that the impact would have been far greater if Volkswagen had many brands in India. Right now, there are just two.”