Will Volkswagen’s clever new ad slogan end up entering common parlance?

The mashing up of words with ‘wagen’ might be advertising gold for the brand in the long run.

Who doesn’t love a good portmanteau: a new word made by mashing up two existing ones? At best, it can be an instant way to introduce a new concept without resorting to long-winded explanations. From Brorritos to Barbenheimer, they’re true marketing gold. So much so that the Guardian once asked, “Have we reached peakmanteau?” which is, of course, itself, a great example of the genre.

Consequently, this new ad really got our attention at Creative Boom. Volkswagen and creative agency adam&eveDDB has unveiled a new global brand platform called ‘YourWagen’ that taps into the deep emotional connections between the car brand and its devoted fans worldwide.

Major life moments

The ‘YourWagen’ platform celebrates the brand by highlighting the real-life stories of owners and the integral roles their vehicles play in major life moments. The platform stems from the literal meaning of Volkswagen as the “people’s car.”

It launches with a hero TV ad that premiered in the UK on 4 May, directed by Finn McGough through production company Dark Energy Films. Media was handled by PHD and Tribal developed the online experience and organic social creative.

The 60-second ad is pretty simple, and that’s exactly why it works. We basically get introduced to a range of characters and their cutely named cars – including the MumsWagen, NansWagen, SnoozeWagen, WalkiesWagen and HolidayWagen – through a montage of family footage and snaps.

Rather than using actors, the producers smartly opted to film real VW owners from across the UK, who were recruited to share their personal stories of Volkswagen car love. Apparently, they were all involved from the early creative stages in what was a highly collaborative process.

Will it stick?

While it’s entertaining enough, the real potential of this ad is yet to be seen. If the mashing up of words with ‘wagen’ starts to pass into the language – in the same way that phrases like ‘Googling it’, ‘does what it says on the tin’ or ‘should have gone to Specsavers’ have – that will really be marketing gold.

Then again, you can’t force these things. If you Google it, you will ironically enough find an ad from the early 2000s that asked, “Do you Yahoo?”. [Young people explainer: Yahoo was an early search engine. Unfortunately for them, though, that slogan really didn’t stick.]

In this case, Sarah Cox-Thornley, head of marketing at Volkswagen UK, is optimistic. “This new brand platform is special,” she enthuses. “We’ve involved our customers and fans from the very start and worked with them to create something that we feel is truly unique and collaborative. It’s something other brands simply couldn’t do and taps into the breadth and depth of our fanbase.”

Global rollout

YourWagen is being rolled out globally to reach audiences in multiple markets in the summer of 2024. The TV ad runs in the UK until 30 June, with a second burst planned for later this year. Social and digital activations will further explore owners’ emotional connections to their Volkswagens.

“Volkswagen has been a jewel in the crown of DDB for over 60 years, and we couldn’t be prouder of the work we’ve done together on this campaign to help reignite the love for this brilliant brand,” says Sam LeCoeur, chief client officer at adam&eveDDB.

Sarah adds: “Hearing some of the stories about customers and their cars has been a wholesome experience and demonstrates how Volkswagen has always been, and will always be, an inclusive brand – that’s why it is the people’s car.”

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