A double take or a double take too far?

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by: Dick Stroud

This is what VW says about this campaign.

Volkswagen launches an innovative web-based campaign which continues the theme of the popular ‘midlife crisis’ adverts featuring the Passat model.

Carrying the tagline ‘When all around are losing their heads, keep yours’ the new advert invites recipients to visit the fictitious ‘Midlife Crisis Retreat.’ Here they can learn more about the Passat and, its creators hope, a little more about themselves.

Designed as a tongue-in-cheek exercise the advanced software used in the site’s creation allows it to be tailored specifically to visitors deemed by friends or family to be suffering a midlife crisis. Nominations can be made by filling out a simple online form resulting in a unique message from the fictitious clinic inviting the nominated individual to visit.

When the recipient clicks on the link contained within the email they’re guided to The Midlife Crisis Retreat site and a unique greeting from the pseudo psychiatrist.
Here they find the ‘midlife crisis test’ designed to rate their susceptibility and raise a smile as well as introducing fictional characters and scenarios based around the ‘crisis’ theme.

The microsite is damn clever. I have never seen this technique of generating a customised video message used before.

As you would expect the campaign comes with its own YouTube channel and has all of the ingredients to generate a pile of viral activity.
But, and there is a big one lurking in the wings, will it sell Passats and enhance the Passat brand?

The punch line of the ad is if you aren’t having a midlife crisis you will appreciate the lures of Passat – if you are having one and get cured you will appreciate the Passat – if you book into the VW midlife crisis you will find it full but (incidentally) VW will have captured your e-mail address.

So my take on the campaign is great use of technology – it has a high ‘smirking’ score – likely to generate buzz and viral traffic. But I am very sceptical about its business effectiveness.

My fear, if I were one of the campaign team, is that all will be remembered is that the VW Passat engenders an emotion of the excruciating male midlife crisis. Not the most positive marketing message.

Original Post: http://www.20plus30.com/blog/2007/06/double-take-or-double-take-too-far.html