Thursday, May 8, 2008

VW - Is this Relevant?

I found this blog the other day. After visiting the VW site, I decided it was worth a mention and a debate or two.

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VW begins polling everyone... about everything
Per AutoBlog, Apr 29th 2008 by
Michael Harley

Volkswagen knows that 73% of the people want to take the tiny soap and shampoo from hotel rooms. They also know that 60% of ice cream buyers prefer cones over cups. On an apparent quest to learn everything, Volkswagen's just-announced multi-faceted polling effort, known as "It's what the people want,"...is a way of keeping in touch with what matters to people today," according to Tim Ellis, Vice President of Marketing for VW of America.

In addition to the web-based polling, VW has also taken their efforts to Times Square where consumers may participate in live-polling, via text SMS, with the ABC Supersign (pictured above). If music is more your style, VW is also encouraging people to visit Pandora to influence the playlists of two Volkswagen radio stations. While we endorse any effort by an automaker to understand what the public really wants, this obsession to learn everything may have gone too far. We just can't seem to overlook the notion that while Volkswagen accepts the fact that 65% of the people want boxers, not briefs, they still haven't fully grasped the concept that we also want the new Scirocco
on our shores. Where's that poll?
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After reading Michael's entry, I visited the website (
www.vw.com/whatthepeoplewant). According to Volkswagen, "the initiative is part of Volkswagen's new global brand platform, Das Auto, and underscores its fundamental message of It's what the people want...Volkswagen's interactive polling program has produced interesting questions and findings on timely issues in current events, lifestyle trends and social behavior - ranging from the everyday to the quirky." I answered some questions and found there's a bizzare list...with little-to-no apparent relation to cars or VW. Here's a sampling:
  • Do you want cops to get pulled over for speeding?
  • Do you want to wear shoes when going through airport security?
  • Do you want dogs to be dogs, not accessories?
  • Do you want to be able to nap in the workplace?
  • Do you want a 5 year renewable contract for marriage?
  • Do you want more home schooling?

I'm not quite sure what the purpose of this campaign is. They're achieving buzz, I'll give them that. And people are having fun playing with the website. It also has elements of co-creation, which I'm all about. But I'd be curious to learn how it is helping people co-create their product experience with VW AUTOMOBILES. Shouldn't the poll have been in relation to cars and drivers and things of that sort? The user interaction is fun...and you can submit what ever question you want. And sure, some of the questions are funny. But how VW will use these answers and how it is relevant to making customers feel like VW is building the right vehicle for them is beyond me. Based on this poll, are they going to offer ice cream cone holders instead of cup holders? A place to store all those mini shampoo bottles from hotels? A car that turns into a bed so you can take a nap when you're at work? My opinion is VW's campaign is telling customers "we know all the weird stuff about you...but still don't know what you really want when it comes to the products we produce for you." Just my take. At the bottom of the VW website it says "the people want German engineering." So the question I submitted in the poll: "The people want a German engineered car: Yes or No" We'll see the outcome...or if they yank it before anyone votes.

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