Campaign of the Week

27 July 2021

VW combines TV and gaming for Golf launch campaign 

Car manufacturer promotes latest vehicle with TV ad that transforms into a mobile racing event

To promote its new Golf GTI, Volkswagen turned a TV ad into an interactive competition that gives viewers the chance to race the vehicle live on mobile against everyone watching the same ad break.

Created by agencies Tribal in Sydney, DDB Sydney and game development studio Art of Play, people can take part in the Golf Ad Break Championship by simply watching TV and keeping an eye out for Volkswagen’s 30-second spot.

Filmed to look like you are driving along a track, the TVC features a QR code that people are encouraged to scan on their smartphone. Participants are then redirected to a dedicated site where they are immediately entered into a race that lasts the length of the entire ad break (approximately three minutes), along with any other viewers that scanned the code.

If they finish the race and beat the qualifying time, players are entered into a draw to win the GTI.

To help people hone their skills before the race, Volkswagen designed three scenic tracks for people to practice on. Users can access these by scanning the QR codes on OOH billboards that the brand placed in typically ‘boring’ places such as train station platforms and bus shelters. Or, people can visit to get access to the QR code.

The practice site allows people to customise their own Golf GTI and has a host of information about the vehicle’s features.

People can also see via the site when the next race is going to take place and which channel they need to tune in to in order to see the ad. There are eight races taking place with the first one having been held on 19 July and the last due to take place on 21 August across networks Channel Ten, Fox Sports and Kayo.

Contagious Insight 

Changing speed / This campaign is part of Volkswagen’s strategy to swerve away from its typical family associations in order to drum up excitement around its latest vehicle launch. Here, the car manufacturer has turned a traditional advertising channel into an engaging event that people look forward to and actively want to participate in. As a result, Volkswagen is able to reinforce the positioning of its new vehicle as the ‘antidote to the everyday’ and generate buzz for the Golf GTI.

‘We’re always looking for ways to break through in a cluttered market and do something that stands out,’ said Hayley Phillips, brand manager of Volkswagen Australia, in the press release. ‘We’re positioning the Golf as the antidote to the everyday, so what better way to prove that than racing it in something as everyday as an ad break?’

Highs and lows / Ads that leverage low-attention processing (not being consciously aware that you are taking something in) help to increase salience over time. However, this type of advertising doesn’t make sense when you are launching a new product and need immediate awareness, or when trying to convince people to take a direct action like making a donation. Instead, Volkswagen has opted to elevate the campaign to high-attention processing (ie, viewers are actively focused on the ad and taking in the information) by telling people exactly what day and at what time the ad will air as well as giving them an incentive to look for it. As a result, the brand is able to instantly communicate the message about the new Golf GTI to its audience in a way that resonates with them.

Eyes on the prize / While the mechanism of putting a QR code in a TV ad that redirects you to a mobile game is simple, the chance of winning a Golf GTI is enough of an incentive to guarantee that people engage with the campaign. Not only does the Ad Break Championship ensure that the audience’s attention is fixed on Volkswagen for the entirety of the three-minute break despite it only being a 30-second spot, the dedicated practice site extends the time that the audience is spending with Volkswagen, which consequently helps to reinforce the message about the new car and its features.

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