Volkswagen Case study THE BEETLE SHARK CAGE by Mediacom New York

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Industry Cars
Media Case study
Market United States
Agency Mediacom New York
Creative Director Amanda Doyle
Released May 2013


Cannes Lions 2013
Branded content & entertaiment lions Branded Entertainment; Best brand or product integration into a feature film, existing TV show and/or series Silver

Credits & Description

Type of entry: Branded Entertainment
Category: Best brand or product integration into a feature film,
existing TV show and/or series
Advertiser: VOLKSWAGEN
Product/Service: VW BEETLE
Agency: MEDIACOM New York, USA
Director/Branded Content: Adam Pincus (MediaCom)
GM/Marketing Communications: Justin Osborne (Volkswagen)
Senior Partner/Associate Director: Joanne Diaz (MediaCom)
Managing Partner: David Fasola (MediaCom)
Communications Planning Director: Sean Williamson (MediaCom)
EVP/Discovery AD Sales: Scott Felenstein (Discovery Channel)
Director/AD Sales Marketing: Mark Lewis (Discovery Channel)
Director/Discovery Solutions: Kevin McCarthy (Discovery Channel)
Account Executive: Stacy Tobin (Discovery Channel)
Creative Director: Amanda Doyle (Deutsch)
Senior Account Supervisor: Alex Milwee (Edelman)
Describe the campaign/entry
With relatively few regulations compared to other markets, branded content and entertainment have flourished in the United States.
Integration into TV shows and films, however, is often a challenging process for brands. It can be difficult for brands to find an organic fit with the right show and the most promising audience.
Furthermore, brands have trouble finding the best opportunities to deliver on their business objectives. The allure of the brand often ends on screen, as TV integrations do not always lead to an increase in sales.
Over the decades, the Volkswagen Beetle had evolved into a car preferred by women. The new Beetle, however, was faster, stronger and sleeker, and VW was determined to improve sales among men.

For most carmakers, tapping the male audience might mean a product placement: an explosion-filled chase in a Hollywood blockbuster… but that's too heavy for the Beetle: we still wanted to preserve the Beetle values of fun and irreverence.

Enter measured danger.

A big hit with men, the Discovery Channel's insanely popular "Shark Week" was the perfect launch pad. But if you're the Beetle, advertising and sponsorships simply wouldn't do. This was THE Beetle!

So with Discovery, Volkswagen engineers and shark photographers, we created a fully-operational underwater Beetle - the cool, totally manly "Shark Observation Cage."
Our idea was to put the Beetle in a place every guy wishes he could be (maybe once): swimming with the sharks.

This wasn't just a cage, but a perfect replica of the iconic car. The submersible vehicle was equipped with a full air system and turbo packs to drive underwater, while the frame and design were unmistakably Beetle, down to the last detail.

To drive home our impressive feat, we produced a series of mini-episodes that chronicled our development process: from design to construction to finally dropping it into shark-infested waters.

To build buzz, we showcased the Beetle Shark Cage at a VW dealer event and a huge Shark Week premiere party. The Shark Observation Cage became a hotly anticipated pop culture event in itself, with coverage in the New York Times, Advertising Age and more.

Our episodes aired on TV and online, with viewers able to grab additional content on our tablet co-viewing app.

Volkswagen had 100% share-of-voice on the Shark Week landing page, with brand messaging across Discovery digital properties.

We seamlessly integrated our dramatic, endemic content into Discovery Channel's "Shark Week" - an annual week-long series of programming devoted entirely to sharks. In its 25th year, Shark Week has become a huge cultural phenomenon.

We used teaser content across Volkswagen's social properties to draw interest, and Volkswagen had 100% share-of-voice on the Shark Week landing page. We blanketed the Discovery Channel and Shark Week digital experience with brand messaging across all touch-points.

And to drive viewership and strengthen the connection between Volkswagen and Shark Week, we collaborated on promotional assets that included tagged tune-ins, out-of-home executions and print ads.

In only one world can a beetle take on a shark…and win!

Volkswagen saw an immediate impact: Beetle monthly sales topped 3,000 units in August - the highest total of the year!

Who was driving the jump? It was all about the guys - with the percentage of male buyers jumping to 40% - a lift of 20%.

Brand recall, likeability and brand opinion scores all SHOT past competitive benchmarks, and the campaign was named best in content marketing at the Creative Media Awards.

Average digital engagement on the Shark Week site was an incredible 28.5', with 5m views overall. The VW playlist had 350,000 views with a way-above-average 65% completion rate, and we saw over 1.8m Facebook posts generated about the Beetle Shark Cage!