New Beetle Vs. Banana Hammock

VW is going with a decidedly retro/dayglo/superhero pitch to sell the new Beetle.
Here’s some “Force of Good” copy from a print execution:

Who will champion snooze buttons, clouds that
look like furry animals, and all-you-can-eat buffets?
Who will step into the ring and become
A Force of Good?

The print and online components encourage interaction, as the user/consumer selects an everyday foe which will “do battle” against the 2006 Beetle. Why, I’m not sure. Must pay off the concept. At any rate, I chose a guy in a bikini (note the headline of this post).
The campaign also features a significant event marketing component to round out the experiential offerings.

Auto Channel: Volkswagen’s updated New Beetle, one of those truly rare cars that brings an automatic smile to peoples’ faces, begins the ‘Force of Good’ tour traveling the country showering goodness upon the unsuspecting. The heart and soul of the Volkswagen brand is taking to the streets with nine ‘Force of Good’ Ambassadors from September 20 – November 8, 2005, spreading joy across the country with stops in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Seattle, San Francisco and Miami. These Ambassadors will battle every day evils by surprising drivers with paid parking meters and tolls, supplying IZZE all-natural sparkling juice to thirsty people on a hot day, distributing coffee during rush hour and participating in local volunteer opportunities.
Join us in your city while we spread a little goodness in a world filled with everyday foes. The ‘Force of Good’ Tour will be bringing positive, uplifting, do-gooding, silly fun to people in your community soon and will actively participate in charitable events across the country. Remember, goodness prevails!
Reintroduced in 1998, the New Beetle has been updated for 2006. The exuberant updated New Beetle has an even bigger smile (thanks to some changes to the front bumpers), a faster 2.5 litre engine (to spread joy more quickly), and happy new colors including Salsa Red and Gecko Green (to brighten any day). The updated New Beetle is available in both hardtop and convertible models.

The “Force of Good” language is a bit over the top for my tatses, but it works too, kind of like The Onion works. You’re left dismayed, but intrigued. “You can’t be serious,” you say. “Who are these clowns that dare to sell cars with hippie-dippie jibberish?” Then you realize it’s highly targeted marketing, that the tone is self-mocking, and critical of the entire charade–selling cars, hippie idealism, and the return of retro dayglo. Or do you?

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am now head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.