September 30, 2015

Volkswagen Will Be Saved By Its Advertising

There is an article in Adweek this week entitled, "How Volkswagen Just Squandered 55 Years of Great Advertising."

The truth is exactly the opposite.

If VW is to extricate itself from the mess it has gotten into, perhaps the biggest asset it has is its tradition of superior advertising.

If this disgraceful atrocity had been perpetrated by Mazda or Fiat or Buick they'd be toast.

But it's different with Volkswagen. We like Volkswagen. We like it because, over time, their advertising has made us like it.

Now let's be a little careful here. They have not had 55 years of great advertising. Nobody does great advertising for 55 years. They've had their share of dogs (anyone remember Fahrvergnugen?) But they've had a lot more great advertising than the other car makers.

If they recover (and they will) the essential element to their recovery will be the reservoir of positive sentiment their advertising has created among consumers.

As I have said before in this space,
"Advertising serves two functions. The first function is the one that every marketer focuses on -- sales. But the second one is at least as important. Advertising is business insurance." 
One of the great blind spots that hardline advocates of online advertising (particularly display and search) have is their shallow belief in advertising as simply a sales or transactional undertaking.

In fact, the insurance value that excellent advertising builds over time is every bit as important.

Over the next 18 months, Volkswagen is about to learn that the billions of dollars they paid for business insurance over the past half century was worth every cent.


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