“Longevity is the hope”: DDB’s mission to restore Australia’s love for Volkswagen

DDB Sydney Volkswagen VGA Brand Campaign

“The location gave us little gifts along the way too, like the shot with the seals. That wasn’t storyboarded, the seals just happened to turn up.”

When it came to relaunching Volkswagen’s local passenger vehicle platform for the first time in seven years, the brief was simple: help restore Australia’s love for Volkswagen.

That’s just what DDB Sydney believes the brand platform it launched this week, Let’s Go for a Drive, will do.

“The more complicated detail,” says Michael Sinclair, head of brand performance at DDB Sydney, was to “achieve this through a long-term idea that can influence customer experience as much as communications, in the context of a rapidly changing category, a relatively new – and largely unknown – range of vehicles, and in one of only a few markets in which the brand commands a significant price premium.”

Michael Sinclair and Matt Chandler DDB

L-R: Michael Sinclair, head of brand performance and Matt Chandler, ECD, DDB Sydney

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

In the Australian market, Volkswagen is best-recognised for its bold brand work on the Amarok. The vehicle has a rich heritage of work including Naked Ute, Walkinshaw Station, and last year’s Born From Tough Love.

“Longevity is the hope for any platform you create, and certainly that’s been the case with Amarok,” says executive creative director Matt Chandler. He notes how the platform has allowed his team to tell different stories for nearly a decade. 

“It’s always felt fresh and executed differently across media every time.”

This time around, for its passenger vehicles, the team at DDB Sydney honed in on the belief that the creative concept and execution are just as crucial as the message itself, trusting in the timeless power of great TVC to forge an emotional connection with an audience.

Sinclair recalls working in close partnership with The Lab and data insights company Kantar to understand the relationship between Australians and their cars, and the salient shifts in market in terms of both car buyers and ownership. 

“The wording and tone of the line is, of course, critical,” says Sinclair of “Let’s Go for a Drive.”

“It’s a simple invitation that confidently implies the product will do the talking. Personally, I think it cues the timeless attitude of Volkswagen in a wonderfully casual way.”

Shot on location by Australian commercial director Steve Rogers from Revolver at an old lighthouse in Cape Campbell on the South Island of New Zealand, the hero TVC tells the simple story of a lighthouse keeper, whose daily joy is his brief excursions for mail that give him the excuse to hop behind the wheel of his Volkswagen.

“We wondered why the hell that guy would need a car unless he just loved driving back and forth each day,” Chandler notes.

“The location gave us little gifts along the way too, like the shot with the seals. That wasn’t storyboarded, the seals just happened to turn up and the crew ran over to grab that shot on the day.

“The combination of the untouched landscape and vintage lighthouse made it the only spot for the story.”

Chandler believes that through “a simple insight and even simpler execution,” his team has created a platform with the potential to last as long and work as hard as the Amarok work.

“The execution was always about driving for the joy of the experience rather than the everyday chore of going from A to B,” he continues.

“We feel it has the right amount of specificity, as well as the necessary flexibility, to keep delivering over time.”

As for Sinclair, his affirmation is a shared hope “that Let’s Go For a Drive’ is here to stay.”

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