Take On Me | How Volkswagen market in different territories

Image from the Volkswagen commercial "feeling carefree", used in the Paul Thomson Digital article about marketing in different territories.

Take On Me

How Volkswagen market in different territories

How do VW change their marketing narrative in different territories? Today we’re going to take a look at the way the Volkswagen markets similar cars to a similar age and gender demographic across cultures and countries.

In this case we are looking at males in their mid-30’s, specifically white collar middle class caucasian men.

VW Jetta Commercial | 2013 | USA


In this commercial, VW have decided to focus on traditional American male aspirational values. The protagonist drives the Jetta, beats the bad guys in a race and wins the girl. It’s about excitement and living life to the full. Even the attitude of the main character in the workplace says that he’s more of a ‘work to live’ rather than a ‘live to work’ type. The message is that if you own this car you will live a more thrilling existence.

The creators have also attached music suited to the age group, A-ha’s famous song Take On Me, and produced graphics throughout the video that pay homage to the original music video from the 1980’s. Furthering the link with this iconic song, the commercial references the fact NO ONE can accurately hit the high note at the end. It’s contemporary yet nostalgic.

VW want to convey these lifestyle attributes of the character to make the Jetta appeal to the white collar male demographic between 35-45 because they want their target audience to identify with their product.

VW Polo Commercial | 2012 | United Kingdom


Across the Atlantic the focus is very different. Volkswagen are trying to appeal to the very same age group and social class as the American Jetta advert, but instead of aspirational values they have decided to appeal to our base instincts and motivate the consumer by portraying universal human truths in their commercial.

The story they have decided to tell is that of a father protecting his daughter as she grows from an infant into adult hood. In each scene he is shown to be nurturing and taking care of his child. He shields her from the rain, inflates her armbands at the pool, gives her his jumper when she’s cold, and looks after her when she’s sick. All of these semiotically signal to us that he is a caring father, but more importantly we would want to identify and ascribe those characteristics to ourselves. To further compliment the visuals, VW have used a song that repeats through the chorus “I’ll watch over you”.

Unlike the prominence of the Jetta in the American commercial, the contemporary VW Polo only features at the end of the commercial, forming a book end with the original model from the 1980’s at the beginning of the ad. Volkswagen built this story to ascribe those values to their vehicle; the Polo is safe and you can trust it to protect your family. These commercials show that we need to take into consideration the perceptions and values of the audience when marketing in different territories.

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