Volkswagen is the flagship brand of what is now the world's largest automotive manufacturer, whose portfolio houses more than eight other international passenger car marques. VW still dominates the Volkswagen Group, accounting for more than half of total volumes. The brand has proved far more long-lived than its origins as a concept car for the Third Reich might have suggested. Reintroduced after World War II by Germany's post-war occupying authority, it was subsequently adopted as a symbol of the counter-culture revolution of the 1960s. Since then, VW has successfully modified its appeal to become arguably the most "classless" car of the modern age, with a broad appeal to all levels of society, underpinned by a reputation for fine engineering and consistently effective advertising, which features regularly among the winners at awards ceremonies around the globe. As a result, it remains well and truly the "people's car" it was originally designed to be. The brand's reputation took a sizeable hit in the key US market in 2015 as a result of the "Dieselgate" emissions-cheating scandal, but its most important territory is now China. Global registrations were 6.91m passenger vehicles in 2018, placing VW second behind Toyota by volumes. (Light commercial vehicles under the VW brand sold an additional 500k units in 2018). The Tiguan SUV narrowly overtook longtime champion Golf for the first time as the brand's top-selling model worldwide. The two were the world's #5 and #6 best-sellers, while Polo ranked #8. China alone accounted for almost 3.2m cars, more than double the country's next biggest seller. The VW brand is marketed there through three separate joint ventures with local partners. The Lavida sedan - designed specifically for the local market and sold almost nowhere else - was the country's single best-selling car. Partly in response to the Dieselgate scandal, Volkswagen has made electric mobility a key focus for future development. It unveiled several concept models under the all-electric ID banner in 2018 and 2019. Herbert Diess is executive chairman of the Volkswagen passenger car brand and also of the parent Volkswagen Group. Ralf Brandstaetter is global COO of the VW brand.
Capsule checked 13th June 2019
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Adbrands Account Assignments tracks account management for the world's leading brands and companies, including details of which advertising agency handles which accounts in which countries for major markets.
Historical profile information for Volkswagen brand
Adbrands Social Media 10th Jun 2019: "Hello Light". The first ad from newly appointed Johannes Leonardo for Volkswagen USA is bold... or perhaps brave would be the more appropriate word. American consumers are used to seeing "mea culpa" ads from carmakers - General Motors ran several during its 2008 bankruptcy - but it's odd to see Volkswagen's appear so late in the day. It's now almost four years since the emissions cheating scandal broke, and most American consumers have probably forgotten about the whole thing. Yet the new ad chooses to put it front and centre once again as the motivation for VW's big push into electric vehicles. All that in one of the most deliberately oblique and arthouse ads we've seen so far this year. Darkness indeed. Does it work? Hmmm. Not so sure. We're betting Johannes Leonardo will be expected to come up with something very much more sales-orientated for the next spot.
Adbrands Social Media 29th May 2019: "The Others". All VW's various global agencies can do clever but no one does whimsical and philosophical quite like DDB Paris. In typically French style, that agency often presents ads for the brand that tackle larger cosmic issues. You might recall, for example, their similarly mock-profound ad "Nothing" for VW a couple of years ago. This time, DDB's starting point is that most famous of bon mots from local philosophical lion Jean-Paul Sartre, applied here to the experience of driving. The elegant script (even better in the original French) is accompanied by a selection of what one would like to believe are snatched vignettes in grainy 16mm film of real life (but which are probably at least partly staged for the camera). It's deliciously arch, and so so so very French.
Adbrands Social Media 7th May 2019: "Life". You can always rely on AlmapBBDO to come up with something compelling for long-standing client Volkswagen. Here's the latest - the second in two weeks we've featured here - which highlights the modern car's safety features by way of a trawl through 30-plus years of brand and model history. It's a lovely, moving tale, beautifully photographed; even if it is perhaps a little longer than it needs to be.
Adbrands Social Media 23rd Apr 2019: "Bye Bye T-Rex". Almap BBDO Brazil's latest campaign for Volkswagen across Latin America has a cute idea, enlivened by great CG, even if it's pushing it a bit to suggest the T-Cross is really that different from all the other "dinosaur" cars on the road. There are some lovely little throwaway visual gags in there as well - like that little dog trying chasing the tail of the uphill T-Rex.
Adbrands Daily Update 18th Feb 2019: Only a few weeks after buying back some of the equity stake previously owned by WPP, Johannes Leonardo was named as lead creative agency for the North American Volkswagen account. That represents a minor blow for WPP, which had secured the whole integrated account at the end of last year. At the time, Taxi and David were named as the main creative agencies on the business. Now Johannes Leonardo will handle the bulk of those duties, with support from other wholly-owned WPP agencies on data, digital and activation.
Adbrands Social Media 14th Jan 2019: "Hooky / Moving". These two strong new spots for Volkswagen USA are either the last from incumbent Deutsch or the first from the newly appointed (and newly created) WPP entity VW Partnership. (We're still waiting for credits to arrive). Whichever the case, it marks a welcome change in direction from the rather earnest and sentimental spots Deutsch has recently been delivering for the carmaker in favour of something a bit edgier and more daring. Now of course we wouldn't dream of inventing a deceased relative just to get the kids out of school, but we can't help but admire the cheek of those bad parents who do.
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