Volkswagen Sharan X 2

BRIEF: Dads sometimes need time alone, The Volkswagen Sharan’s roomy interior
is perfect for them to enjoy a bit of “me time”.
(The Sharan was essentially a transit van with seats welded into the back and windows
cut out of the sides.)
A CD’s job isn’t to just oversee the creative work, they are a conduit between the creative and other departments.
So if a brief comes in that you don’t think you can turn into credible creative work, it’s your job to flag it up.
I don’t recall whether Sean or I challenged the brief, it was the first we had to CD when we arrived BMP/DDB, but we should have.
Sean is the consummate Creative, he figures it’s his job to turn a brief into good creative work, he can execute anything – “Shoes you can eat? Cool, when do you need it by?”
I’m a bit more logical, if I’m trying to sell something it’s as though I have to walk into a big room filled with suspicious people, and convince them I have a good product.
So if what I’m given to say doesn’t sound credible, I worry I might get laughed out of the room.

The Sharan brief was given to a team, a good team, and they were given two weeks.
They went right up to the wire, the night before the meeting, then came in and said “Couldn’t really think of anything…Soz.”
Only two weeks before we were at Leagas Delaney, where you’d be given a few days and “Soz” wasn’t an option.
You had to deliver creative work, meetings just weren’t cancelled due to creative work not being created. (It turned out that cancelling meetings due to the brief not being cracked was common at BMP/DDB, and probably resulted in better creative, we just hadn’t acclimatised yet.)
Anyhow, we stayed until about midnight “writing our way out of the problem”, as Tim Delaney used to say.

We produced this campaign:
VW Sharan Tip LR

VW Sharan Woods LR

VW Sharan Pebbles LR

VW Sharan Questionnaire LR

The ads were quite nice and even picked up a few awards, but the issue was the strategy, it was… was…what’s that planning term? Bollocks.
Nobody really wanted to drive around alone and luxuriate in the roomy interior of a glorified van.
People bought them because they had kids, and kids come with lots and lots of stuff.

The following year the brief came in again.
This time with an interesting insight; People traded down from very expensive cars to a Sharan because they felt like they were giving something to their children, and they quite liked being seen as people who put their children’s needs before their own.
(Also, they planned to trade straight back up to a good car the minute the kids were old enough not to need so much equipment.)
Now that sounds true, different and very Volkswagen – honest and self deprecating.
Sean and I were both going through the new Dad bit, so it struck a chord.

We listed all the things we’d given up or changed for the sake of our children – our music for their inane nursery rhyme cds, Tarrantino’s new film for a five hour Teletubbies marathons, etc.
It was a big list.

We translated it directly into an idea:
Volkswagen scamp-03
It was thought to be strong on empathy, but the idea was not quite clear enough.

We tinkered a bit and did these:
Volkswagen scamp-02

Volkswagen scamp-04

Volkswagen scamp-01
The client liked and and bought them.
Art direction issue; They look like a scrappy mess, too many bits.

We needed to bring some order and also differentiate one side from the other.
The ‘rose tinted’ view of the world was rose tinted, the truthful view of the world was made to look more Volkswageny – black and white.


They were shot, made and supplied to magazines.
At the eleventh hour the client got cold feet and pulled them, they worried they were underselling the car.
A replacement campaign celebrated the Sharan’s “hidden power”, eg. A shark smoking a pipe.
Strategically that’s…now what’s that technical term planners use?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s