Volkswagon relies solely on advertising through the iPhone

Volkswagon is launching its newest model of the GTI, and they are spending 1/120th of the money they spent on advertising for its predecessor, the 2006 model, and they are expecting success. Sound too good to be true? It just might be, no one has ever tried what they are about to do.

Their plan: The automaker is launching a new iPhone app to announce its newest vehicle. Read the release.
The cost: $500,000 total in advertising. (They spent $6 million in 2006).
Their strategy: It’s a gamble. They think that the highly targeted app will reach the demographics of their audience, more effectively than a TV ad campaign—and for less money. AdAge agrees with their logic.
The problem: Even though there are 500 million iPhone users who be a seemingly great audience for this endeavor because of their interest in technology and more expensive products, there is no way they will all download the app. And why would anyone want to download advertising? Well, Volkswagon has created an interactive advertisement, or a racecar game that highlights the specific features of the car—and of course, it is free. Download RealRacing GTI today.
RealRacing GTI

In a time of uncertain finances, this new advertising strategy could be revolutionary. Volkswagon is testing the waters, and it will be interesting to see if we have gone into a new age of advertising.

One thing can at least be said for trying something so outrageously new: Imagine much free advertising they are getting from pulling a stunt like this. Many critics believe if anything, it is a smart PR move.

Do you think that advertising could shift towards this new realm of possibilities? Would you download an advertisement?


13 responses to “Volkswagon relies solely on advertising through the iPhone

  1. Not only is this a fun, new PR move, but Volkswagon is one of the first. I think that we have entered a new age of advertising along with journalism and we have a lot of innovation to look forward to.

    If it was something fun like this, I would download an advertisement.

  2. This advertisement is fun and innovative; kudos to Volkswagon for testing the waters. I think I’d also download this one – which is kind of an interesting concept because advertisements are often overwhelming and prompt users to x-out of something as soon as it appears!

  3. lindsaymiller89

    I think people who are looking for a new car would definitely be interested in this new interactive ad. This is a great way for Volkswagon to reach an audience with money to spend. I would download an advertisement if it was free and entertaining. This racing game is a great way to camouflage an ad.

  4. Ann Schnoebelen

    This is a cool idea! I think the best point made is that even if fewer people actually download the ad than Volkswagon wants, the publicity they’re getting just by doing this is a great move. If this catches on, what sort of advertisements will we see next? What sort of app would Clorox or McDonald’s or Wells Fargo use to catch our eye?

    …I just added another point to my list of reasons why I need an iPhone.

    • That’s what I was thinking about the iPhone, Ann. When this catches on and more fun apps are created, my flip phone is going to be even more discouraging. Poor guy.

    • This first thing I thought to myself, was great, another thing I’m missing out one because I don’t have an iPhone. In this aspect, I think Volkswagon is cutting themselves short by limiting their ad campaign to only accessible to iPhone users.

      The idea in itself is definitely innovative–and will be remarkable on a different level than T.V. ads. They are starting a trend to say the least–and we will see if it is successful or not. The way I look at it, it could go either way. It’s quite a risk.

      • I agree with Clara. This serves as another reminder of how out-of-date I feel because I don’t have an iPhone. I’ll admit that I don’t think I need one, in that I am able to access my laptop often enough to not need to have constant access via an iPhone. However, I’m concerned that media and information are becoming available exclusively as iPhone applications.

        Does it seem like Apple has a bit of a monopoly going on with the iPhone (with AT&T sharing the benefits)? I know Windows enjoyed it’s monopoly-like reign for quite some time before Apple took off, so I find this scenario ironic. Am I totally neglecting something (which is very likely) or does anyone else think this is going on, too?

        I think this campaign will work well for Volkswagon because it is so different, but I’m interested in seeing some competition for the iPhone and what their equivalent of apps would be. Does anyone know of anything around the corner in this realm?

  5. At first, I was thinking exactly what you questioned. Why would anyone ever download an ad. But then you mentioned that it is actually a downloadable game. I think that was a really smart move. By making it a game, I think they will target even more people then they would have if they had just made it an application.

    I guess I’m having a lot of trouble believing the idea that they can get more viewers from the iPhone then they can from television. I would think that there are still more people with television in their homes then there are people with iPhones in their pockets.

    I agree with you though, think of all the free advertising they’re getting just for trying something new. It’s a pretty smart plan. I am curious to see how it works out for them.

  6. This is definitely innovative–disguising an advertisement as a free video game? iPhone users will be all over this (hopefully). I mean, if I had an iPhone, I would be. Plus, it costs way less than their previous advertising endeavors, which is a major positive point. I think this will definitely work for them.

  7. This is really cool and all, but it leaves a lot of people out. Not everybody has an iPhone, which means they’re missing a good chunk of their market. It’s definitely a neat spin on the traditional, though. Volkswagen has always done a lot of really cool things with their advertising campaigns. Clever, clever….

  8. Mary Bess Bolling

    Volkswagen’s innovative app is clever, but not unprecedented. The interactive game is more advanced than the app ads that came before it, but Pepsi released an ad for its AMP energy drink early this fall called “AMP Up Before You Score” that (jokingly) equips men with the necessary lines, moves, etc. to score with different types of girls. http://bit.ly/2wBd3w

    Though offensive and sexist, the app has drummed up enough attention to create a PR buzz, and I think the Volkswagen app will do the same. It’s cheaper and more efficient to have an app made than a traditional ad. I expect nearly every company and organization to make an app in the near future.

  9. Pingback: Nonverbal Communication « Print Media Editing / Drake University

  10. I can definitely see this taking off. There’s already hundreds of games that could be incorporated into advertising. Their are hotel managing games, burger building games, racing games, you name it. Each of these could attach a brand name to their theme. While I’m not sure it will be affective as the ONLY advertising medium, I think it will open up a whole new world of advertising and sponsorship.

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