Considering the decline in sales Volkswagen has experienced in the last three years, it has seemed unlikely that the automaker will make good on the promise made by former VW America President Stefan Jacoby to double sales between 2012 and 2013. However, exciting new Jetta and Passat models have set the company on track to meet that goal, perhaps even sooner than predicted.
So far this year VW sales have risen 24% to 380,115 units. For the month of October sales were up 40% – the largest increase reported industry-wide in the U.S. Some say the gains are due to the difficulties Japanese automakers have experienced as a result of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, but there is no doubt Volkswagen is gaining momentum.
One reason for the momentum is a remarkably popular Super Bowl commercial spot called “The Force.” The commercial has turned into media gold for Volkswagen and received over 43 million views on YouTube. The spot; it features a boy dressed as Darth Vadar attempting to use his powers on a washing machine, a napping dog and a 2012 Volkswagen Passat. Deutsch of Los Angeles, California created the spot and CEO Michael Sheldon explains the magic behind the concept: “The reason people are buying the cars is because we are not selling. We’re asking people to be cool and smart, and that’s very attractive.”
The marketing team at VW did some quick thinking to get the full 60 second spot out to the public before the Super Bowl version aired. The commercial had to be cut to 30 seconds to air during the game, and the full effect was diminished. VW marketing got the spot out on the internet days before the Super Bowl, ensuring that the full version would be the one that most people would remember. Deutsch will be creating another ad for next year’s Super Bowl and is also creating a campaign for the 2012 Beetle.
The new Passat is being produced at a new Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and will be in direct competition with the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, and the price tag is much lower than the previous version, which was built in Germany rather than the U.S. The new Jetta sedan is being built in Mexico.
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