DDB and VW launch RooBadge, designed to save kangaroos and cars

Volkswagen (VW) x DDB RooBadge installing hands

The idea came after the team experienced kangaroo hazards firsthand on film sets.

After four years of product development, Volkswagen is gearing up to start trials for its latest regional road safety innovation, the “RooBadge,” in collaboration with creative agency DDB Sydney, and wildlife rescue organisation, Wires. 

This device, designed to fit over a Volkswagen’s front badge, emits a warning signal to kangaroo species as vehicles approach. The signal, inaudible to humans, blends natural and artificial sounds in real time before projecting at high-frequency from the front of the vehicle.

The creative solution by the Amarok ute manufacturer aims to save countless kangaroos, protect regional Australian drivers, and prevent hundreds of thousands of dollars in vehicle damage.

Project lead David Jackson, DDB Sydney’s digital executive creative director, told Mediaweek the inspiration for the RooBadge came from Volkswagen commercial clients experiencing the kangaroo hazard firsthand on film sets for its annual Amarok ad, which sparked the three-year journey towards a solution.

“We asked ourselves if we could do something about it,” said Jackson.

“We advanced the idea that cars have got smarter, they’ve got CarPlay and Android Auto. So why don’t we use those smarts to come up with something that can give us a vessel to play different sounds, and test different things for different parts of Australia?”

Volkswagen (VW) x DDB RooBadge Hero Box

The RooBadge, the first of its kind to be scientifically developed and proven, has now been granted permission for stage four trials – involving kangaroos in the wild – by The University of Melbourne Office of Research Ethics and Integrity.

Jackson lists it as a departure from more primitive technologies that have come before it, because it uses what researchers at the University deem “meaningful sounds,” effective in deterring kangaroos.

While the Amarok has assumed the hero position in the campaign thanks to its brand love in Australia, Jackson says the vision is for a universal vehicular safety solution: he wants the RooBadge to work with all cars.

David Jackson, National ECD at Tribal Australia (DDB Group)

“We’re really thinking about how we make the solution available to all, because safety shouldn’t be something anyone owns,” says Jackson. 

“It should be something we put out there that everyone has the availability to get their hands on.”

He also sees the RooBadge technology as having the potential to go beyond Australia, and work for deer in other countries.

“What we know from science is that the ear shape in the head shape tells us that they probably have similar hearing ranges,” says Bender. 

“So, whatever we learn has transferability to the deer as well.”

The news comes a month after DDB Sydney launched a new campaign for Volkswagen, marking the automotive company‘s first brand platform in seven years: “Let’s go for a drive.”

DDB Sydney ECD Matt Chandler told Mediaweek the relaunch was a reaffirmation of the Volkswagen brand presence in Australia.

“As VW embarks on an important new chapter, with the arrival of several new models this year, it was vital that the unique Volkswagen brand was clearly re-established for the Australian audience,” said Chandler.

“VW has always had a tone and wit wholly of its own, so having the opportunity to put that back front and centre was about as exciting a creative challenge as you can get.”

See also: DDB Sydney launches first brand campaign for Volkswagen in seven years

Client: Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles 
Ryan Davies: Director, Volkswagen commercial vehicles
Nathan Johnson: Head of marketing and product, Volkswagen commercial vehicles

Creative Agency: DDB Group Sydney 
David Jackson: Digital ECD (concept) 
Noah Regan: Creative partner (concept) 
Stephen de Wolf: National chief creative officer  
Ben Welsh: Chief creative officer  
Tara Ford: Chief creative officer  
Matt Chandler: Executive creative director 
Tim Woolford: Creative partner  
Tommy Cehak: Creative partner  
Chris Ott: Creative 
Nick Russo: Managing partner 
Natalija Bouropoulos: Business director 
Oscar Kennedy: Business executive 
Adrian Jung: Group head of delivery 
Renata Barbosa: Head of integrated content 
Sevda Cemo: Head of integrated content 
Rene Shalala: Senior producer 
Tania Jeram: Senior producer 
Laura Oleart: Integrated producer 
Natalie Greaves: Producer 
Morteza Shahbake: Senior art director  
Rhys Day: Senior editor 

Technology Partner: Nakatomi 
Research Partner: The University of Melbourne 
Industrial Design Partner: Vert Design 
Design Agency: Interbrand Australia 

Music and Sound: Mosaic 
Simon Hammond: DOP
Mason Walker: Production assistant 
Fergus Hally: Grade
Flying Robot: Drone

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