International Communication Strategies of Volkswagen

Seminar Paper, 2014
23 Pages, Grade: 1.3


Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Abbreviations

1 Introduction

2 International Communication Policy
2.1 Advertising Objectives
2.2 Advertising Concept
2.2.1 Above the Line Advertising
2.2.2 Below the Line Advertising
2.3 Unique Selling Proposition for Advertising Concepts

3 Position of Volkswagen in Automobile Manufacture’s Industry

4 Communication Strategy of Volkswagen
4.1 Volkswagen ‘Das Auto’ as a Unique Selling Proposition
4.2 Product Placement - ‘Herbie the Love Bug’
4.3 Sponsorship
4.4 VW’s Event Marketing
4.5 VW’s Interactive and digital Marketing
4.6 VW’s Most Famous Advertising Campaigns

5 Conclusion


List of Figures

Figure 1: Definition of Target Audience

Figure 2: The Volkswagen Brand Logo

Figure 3: Homepage of Volkswagen USA on Twitter

Figure 4: Advertising Campaign ‘Think Small’

List of Abbreviations

illustration not visible in this excerpt

1 Introduction

As the second largest automobile manufacturer in the world, Volkswagen Group comprises twelve different brands from seven European countries, e.g. Porsche, Audi, Seat, Lamborgini or MAN.[1] Each brand operates as an independent entity on its specific market segment with its specific target audience. This paper analyses Volkswagen’s (VW’s) communication policy relating to the original brand Volkswagen. VW differentiates itself from other competitors not only by its products but also by its communication policy. In the 1960s print media were the primarily conducted advertising campaigns caused by a tight budget. Today, VW’s outstanding market and financial position allows it to use a wider range of media, e.g. magazines, social hubs or television ads. Thereby, VW’s copy strategy is based on a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). An exceptional phenomenon of VW’s automobiles is historically based: The VW-Beetle has become legend and the VW Golf has shaped a whole generation. Thus, there has to be something VW used to separate itself from its competitors - a form of secret of success.

This paper gives an overview about several communication tools VW has used and shortly introduces its most successful campaigns. The goal of the paper is to point out VW’s uniqueness in terms of advertisement and therefore to clarify whether VW undertakes measures for customer loyalty or customer acquisition.

Section 2 gives a short overview about an advertising concept including advertising objectives as well as, several general communication tools. A brief presentation of the Volkswagen Company is delivered in section 3. Section 4 shortly introduces some communication tools VW has used during the last decades since its foundation. Section 5 concludes.

2 International Communication Policy

Communication policy is one part of the ‘4 P’s of Marketing Mix’. In 1960 Edmund Jerome McCarthy developed the business tool of 4 P’s including the four marketing instruments product, price, promotion and place. To develop an optimal working marketing strategy companies have to determine an optimal combination of marketing instruments meaning the optimal planning of a ‘Marketing Mix’.[2] In the 1940s Harold Lasswell published a theory of communication about ‘Who says what in which channel to whom with what effect?’. In concrete terms ‘who’ means the sender of a message, ‘what’ reflects the message itself, ‘channel’ illustrates the medium which is used for sending the message, ‘to whom’ represents the receiver of the message and ‘effects’ charaterize the consequences of the message.[3] A company sets individual advertising objectives which are mainly oriented on its corporate objectives. This concept includes a target-group-planning and an evaluation of different advertising tools under a given advertising budget. Furthermore, communication policy includes a finally monitoring process to guarantee success and optimizing the portfolio if necessary.

2.1 Advertising Objectives

Defining advertising objectives is an essential process in order to ensure comparability. The selection of the appropriate objective depends on the life cycle of the products or services but also on the company’s target audience. The objectives can be classified into three core dimensions. First, information advertising is mainly used when a company introduces a new product line during the so called introduction phase. Customers should be informed about the new product or about the way it works. Persuasive advertising is the second objective and is used during the growth phase. This kind of advertisement becomes more important when competition on an existing market increases. Companies strive to build a brand preference and encourage customers to switch to their brand. Third, during the declining phase reminder advertising becomes a major advertising objective for mature products. Therefore, it aims to maintain customer relationship or keep the product in customer’s mind for example in off-seasons.[4]

2.2 Advertising Concept

Working out an advertising concept is a detailed process which is focused on defined objectives and also includes a selection of advertising tools and media the company is going to use for its campaigns. Moreover, it defines the frequency of these tools and the key message the company wants its target audience to take out of the campaign. These tools are usually split into two basic groups ‘Above the Line Advertising’ and ‘Below the Line Advertising’.[5]

2.2.1 Above the Line Advertising

‘Above the line advertising’ represents the core of communication tools with the intention of raising mass awareness including classical advertisement. The consumer immediately realizes the measurement of the company as a form of advertisement. Classical advertisement means ‘any paid form of nonpersonal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods or services by an identified sponsor via print media (newspaper and magazines), broadcast media (radio and television), network media (telephone, cable, satellite, wireless), electronic media (audiotape, videotape, videodisk, CR-ROM, Web page) and display media (billboards, signs, posters)’.[6]

Besides classical advertisement, public relations have the aim to establish a good relationship and thus an outstanding company’s image. It also strengthens the reliability between the company and the employees, consumers, other firms or the government, respectively.[7]

Direct Marketing is a form of advertising to communicate straight to existing and potential consumers to obtain lasting customer relationship, customer acquisition, high attention and an immediate response by using cell phones, promotional letters, fax, e- mail or the internet.[8]

2.2.2 Below the Line Advertising

In comparison to ‘above the line advertising’, ‘below the line advertising’ plays a rather supporting role. Consumers do not immediately recognize that they are faced with advertising measurements. Major communication tools are briefly explained in the following.

Sales promotion reflects a couple of companies’ short-term measures in order to increase product sales and enhance service. This includes consumer promotion, e.g. samples or coupons which directly approach the consumer as well as trade promotion like advertising or display allowances.[9]

Sponsored activities and programs including sports, arts, entertainment, social or environment are helpful to create brand awareness and to strength the image of the company. The company provides money, goods, services or know-how to sponsor persons or organizations and is therefore justified to use its brand logo or its brand name for representation.

Besides sponsoring, companies also use event marketing or product placement in movies as a method to present its products and the brand itself.[10] If product placement is based on a good production, the product might become highly interesting for people watching the movie.

The newest and fastest-growing channel for communication is interactive marketing.[11] It integrates electronic texts, graphics, moving images or sound and combine these tools to interact with people via internet, television or cell phones. Interactive communication via social hubs is of high relevance today.

2.3 Unique Selling Proposition for Advertising Concepts

An USP is the basis for good marketing performance and thus the development and evaluation of a business plan. An USP gives consumers advices by telling them why they should buy this product and what makes it special in comparison to competitor’s ones. USPs can be used for nearly every product or service and is necessary to stand out today’s crowded market place. An USP might be that a company that provides its products or services cheaper than its competitors by driving a low-cost strategy. Alternatively, the company can drive a premium-price or differentiation strategy by supplying an either remarkably differentiated or high quality product or service.

Identifying USPs helps companies to focus on their key benefits and thus can be used in order to improve effectiveness of promotion and sales activities. The challenge for companies is to transfer the USP to the customer.[12]


[1] Cf. Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft (2013a).

[2] Cf. Meffert et al. (2012), p. 22ff.

[3] Cf. Lasswell, H.D. (1948), p. 37.

[4] Cf. Kotler, P., Armstrong, G. (2009), p. 455ff.

[5] Cf. Schweiger, G., Schrattenecker, G. (2005), p.109.

[6] Cf. Kotler, P., Keller, K., (2012), p. 500ff.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Cf. Kotler, P., Armstrong, G., (2009), p.426.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Cf. Kotler, P., Keller, K., (2012), p. 500

[11] Ibid, p. 562.

[12] Cf. The Chartered Institute of Marketing, (2009), p. 2ff.

Excerpt out of 23 pages


International Communication Strategies of Volkswagen
University of Applied Sciences Essen
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international, communication, strategies, volkswagen
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Jaqueline Hortlik (Author), 2014, International Communication Strategies of Volkswagen, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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