Volkswagen of America has kicked off a new ad campaign with a new New York ad agency designed to move the brand forward and hopefully upward after the diesel engine scandal that has weighed down the company for the last four years.
In a nod to the 1960's glory of both the VW brand and its advertising, the company licensed Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence.” The ad, which debuted on the NBA Finals Wednesday night, depicts a design engineer reacting to a radio report about the diesel scandal, but then getting back to his work to design what became the I.D. Buzz concept car that is becoming a new iteration of the classic Microbus electric vehicle.
The ad closes with the words: “In The darkness, we found the light. Introducing a new era of electric driving.”
Companies do not often do an open apology as part of an ad charting its future. Volkswagen of America CEO Scott Keogh, who took over last October, has long established himself as a hands-on marketing person. He was chief marketing officer at VW AG’s Audi of America unit, and then CEO.
It is his marketing background and success at Audi that teed him up to take VW’s troubled North American unit forward.
In 2018, Volkswagen of America reported sales increases of 4.2% with passenger VW car sales down by 28% while SUV sales more than doubled. The company sold 354,064 vehicles. That is a very long way from the 1 million cars a year the company was targeting a decade ago to hit by 2020.