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Revisiting old ads to drive home a new message

Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla | Updated on January 16, 2020 Published on January 16, 2020

A Volkswagen Beetle

In the process, Carmakers are saving big bucks

When Volkswagen decided to bid adieu to its Beetle, it rolled out a new ad campaign, ‘The Last Mile’, featuring a string of videos on the iconic car. Featured during the Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl games in the US, they showed an animated cover of The Beatles’ Let It Be album with guest spots from Andy Warhol and Kevin Bacon.

It was last February that VW dismantled its bespoke advertising teams by hand-picking specialists from WPP to produce its US creative. Johannes Leonardo, its lead brand agency, had headed up the ads to say goodbye to the Beetle.

It now wanted to animate live action and be whimsical: with the feel of an old postcard but extremely modern in design. VW launched the ad film at midnight on three prominent outdoor screens in New York City’s Times Square. The campaign was focussed on bidding farewell to the world’s most popular car even while it showed VW’s commitment to its next chapter.

Fellow German carmaker BMW also took this ad recycling theme to a new level with older commercials. The idea was to show how certified pre-owned vehicles were as good as new.

The same creatives, TV spots, billboards and digital banners originally used to advertise the vehicles when they were launched, were now re-employed for pre-owned cars. Using the tagline ‘Made from 100 percent BMW commercials’, the ads featured the promise ‘Like New Again.’

In one, the voiceover notes how the company saved money recycling the ad, ‘just like the money you will save on a certified BMW’. In yet another ad, featuring a three-year-old ad, an old dog is taught new tricks on how to open the boot by simply wagging his tail below the sensor.

Honda, meanwhile, launched a ‘pre-owned pre-roll’ campaign for its certified pre-owned vehicles. The target audience was pre-owned shoppers who were younger, with lower incomes, social media scrollers and more diverse than an average Honda shopper.

The agency assigned with this task went to other brands aligned with Honda’s various demographics and then made the unusual request to buy their old ads. Many of them happily complied since they were keen to give their used videos a new lease of life. New graphics, music and voiceover were then added.

The ads, which played out on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and other social media channels, were termed a winner at the 11th annual Shorty Awards. Instead of coughing up big bucks for new ads, Honda mirrored the used-car buyer mindset and bought used ads from brands.

Nostalgia is a handy tool, especially when it helps achieve a certain task, as in the case of VW, BMW and Honda.

Beyond advertisements, manufacturers are also resurrecting old brands to reach out to a completely new set of buyers.

The Bajaj Chetak is a recent example preceded by Jawa.

The Ambassador brand is now in the hands of Groupe PSA and it will be interesting to see how the French carmaker positions it in India.

Old could be gold but the key is to deliver the right product that makes a strong customer connect.

Published on January 16, 2020
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