Monday, 20 June 2011

Volkswagen’s ‘Think Blue’ initiative aligns like-minded people

Increasingly consumers are defining themselves by what and whom they associate with. To wit, what your brand represents is an integral part of peoples identity by association.  This brand ‘shorthand’ is a testament to ones beliefs and values. It’s a badge and by definition, is a characteristic mark, device (or token) especially of membership in a society or group.  It's also an imperative element to creating an aspirational identity that’s relevant to the consumer (and coincidentally the key in getting people to want to be associated with your brand.)

This is precisely why many savvy brands are focusing on social good today.   A great example is Volkswagen’s ‘Think Blue’ initiative. Volkswagen (Singapore) for example launched a multi-phased campaign centered on its ‘Think Blue’ philosophy of environmental conservation. ‘Think Blue’ is a global initiative from Volkswagen focused on encouraging eco-friendly behavior by making it fun.

The 360 degree campaign features a website promoting the first-ever social media driven virtual road trip integrated with Google Street View‘ – that let’s users invite friends along for the ride.  While educating the masses on the ‘Think Blue’ philosophy in a fun and interactive way, the website also brings people together on an online social road trip, a carefully planned journey that ushers the user through various checkpoints with games and interactions along the way.

Using several of Google’s Open API like Maps, direction and Street View together with Facebook and Twitter, users are invited to go on a virtual road trip with their Facebook friends. They are given options to choose a Volkswagen car, plan a route, and pick three Facebook friends to take along with them across the sunny island of Singapore. With this technological mashup, users can document their journey; mark checkpoints with a personalized message and the whole experience is compiled into a downloadable map, complete with a customized license plate and ‘photo’ of the user and his or her road trip buddies.

During their road trip, users will also get to sample a unique HTML5 multi-windowed gaming experience.  Conceived as fuel challenges, these games teach users how to ‘Think Blue’ while entertaining them with simple yet fun game mechanics. Users who ace all the fuel challenges even stand a chance to win a Volkswagen weekend drive.
 After all the action on the virtual road, users can take a backseat and learn more about the Volkswagen technologies that support the green philosophy. To inject more fun, Tribal DDB took to the idea of getting a child’s perspective and the immensely charming ‘Think Blue Tales’ were born - where users will hear a child’s take on Volkswagen cars and technologies. In the days ahead, users can also expect to hear “Think Blue. Tales” on national TV and radio.  To lets users play with the brand, users can sign up for Volkswagen’s Eco-driving Program through the website and learn fuel-efficient driving techniques from Volkswagen-certified driving instructors.

This is extremely powerful because Volkswagen isn’t just paying lip service to the very real concerns of pollution and global warming.  They have made a formal pledge to ‘Think Blue’ as a corporation and every Volkswagen employee has also made the pledge.  To further reinforce the point, the campaign even featured educational posters drawn by hand using recycled materials.  

Other internal initiatives include a ‘Think Blue’ committee made up of staff representatives from the various departments to explore and implement green ideas from employees, as well as e-mail signatures that remind recipients not to print their emails (and reinforce the value positioning of Volkswagen.

Kudos to Volkswagen (and Tribal DDB) - for making ‘less about the moment and more about the movement’.  They’ve successfully extended one powerful unifying, overarching idea (facilitated by the brand) that seeks to aggregate and align like-minded people by extending something other then (and bigger then) the brand itself. Very impressive indeed.