I opened a paper on the weekend to find this (above).
And then discovered a whole campaign from Volkswagen, featuring ideas like the ‘Shopping Shirt’, the ‘Yumbrella’ and the ‘Magni-fryer’ alongside the tagline ‘Why be environ-mental when you can be environ-normal?’
I don’t know how these ads makes you feel, but I felt like my intelligence took a blow, along with the entire environmental movement.
But a more pressing question (or what I imagine to be a pressing question for Volkswagen) is:
What impact did this have on brand VW and the message they are trying to get across?
The Australian ad industry blogs reported on the campaign but (no surprises) didn’t seem to have any qualms with the content:
From Campaign Brief:
As part of the launch campaign of the Golf BlueMotion, Volkswagen Group Australia, via DDB Sydney, created a special wrap for last weekend’s edition of The Sun-Herald and Sunday Herald Sun to coincide with World Environment Day.
All campaign elements feature environ-‘mental’ products: the Shopping Shirt, the Yumbrella and the Magnifryer to encourage consumers to consider Volkswagen’s non compromised practical and stylish offering.
And from Mumbrella:
Different executions bring to life environ-‘mental’ products, such as the Yumbrella, a contraption designed to avoid having to buy bottled water.
These executions run with other ads that tie in with the Golf BlueMotion’s green positioning.
Interesting ‘green positioning’ VW – the people most likely to absorb any message about the eco-creds of your cars are people who actually give a damn – and you have just pissed them off.
If the idea of launching this campaign on World Environment Day was supposed to place Volkswagen as a green and responsible company, it failed. It stuck two fingers up at the movement towards considered consumption and arguably set us
back some way on getting the public to see sustainable behaviour as ‘normal’, not to mention say no to bottled water (so wacky!)
Volkswagen want to be taken seriously when it comes to their environmental credentials.
This is clear by their extensive environmental reporting, environmental strategy and the money being pumped into their ‘Think Blue‘ sustainability philosophy which wraps right around the launch of the BlueMotion technology.
It might be succeeding at this if it weren’t for two glaring problems:
- The staggering inconsistency in their messaging. Which is it? Are they a responsible company or do they want to undermine the idea of acting responsibly?
- Their actual environmental behaviour.
As Greenpeace Europe so kindly pointed out earlier this month via the brilliant VW Dark Side campaign:
Volkswagen is spending millions of Euros every year funding lobby groups who are trying to stop Europe increasing its commitment to greenhouse gas reductions from 20% to 30% by 2020. Progressive companies – from Google to Ikea, Sony, Unilever and Philips – support the target. Volkswagen can’t afford to be left behind.
And sorry to ram home the point about inconsistency again but here’s what the the ‘Think Blue’ website tells us:
At Volkswagen, we’re committed to sustainability. For us, this means taking responsibility for the environment and working to give to a sustainable future, through our products and behaviour. We call this attitude “Think Blue.”
There is, in fact, a beautiful and poignant animated film created by VW, for Think Blue which communicates exactly what good corporate sustainability behaviour and philosophy should be about.
The film is not about doing what’s ‘environ-normal’ but creating better ways of doing things and spreading ideas. Unfortunately this message is completely undercut by this advertising campaign which undermines the idea of acting responsibly and finding a better way.
Which makes me wonder what the real philosophy is at Volkswagen, and from here it’s not looking good.