Gold Spike
CategoryA02. Best Use of Social Media
2nd PR/Advertising Agency:GOODSTEIN & PARTNERS Beijing, CHINA


Name Company Position
George Warga Goodstein & Partners ECD
Daryl Villanueva/Felipe Ferreira/Flavio Vidigal Proximity China ACD
Jojo Zhang/Vivian Liu/Derek Lui Proximity China Copywriters
Andy Li/Zoro Cui Proximity China Art Directors
Fang Ji/Sofia Lv Proximity China Designers
Hymn Wong Proximity China Motiongrapher
Ever Liu Proximity China Editor
Cameron Rimington Proximity China Head Of AI
Catherine Liu/Maureen Sherrard Proximity China Project Managers
Alex Zhang Proximity China Planner
Enko Von Arnim/Guay Chinchye/Lorraine Zhang/Audrey Li/Carolyn Yu Proximity China Accounts Team
Alex Csergo Proximity China MD
Inna Pan Agency Producer
Stink Production Company

The Campaign

In 2011, Volkswagen launched the People’s Car Project, a platform to inspire the Chinese people to create new ideas for cars. Wang Jia or user Dark520, a girl from Chengdu, submitted an idea for a hover car on the People’s Car Project website, www.zaoche.cn. Volkswagen took her winning idea and applied magnetic levitation technology, turning it into a working concept car. Volkswagen celebrated the girl’s idea by surprising her with a dedicated film, featuring her parents behind the wheels. The film was revealed to Wang Jia at a private movie premiere, where her friends, family, and a flash mob joined in celebration. The story spread to the local and international press, including ChinaDaily, New York Times, the Huffington Post, Forbes, and talk show host Jay Leno. With 18 million views worldwide, the Hover Car film inspired audiences everywhere to discussed and analyzed the technology of the concept. Volkswagen continued to innovate by inspiring more breakthrough concepts, including the Sphere Car, the Music Car, the Intelligent Key, and the COGO app. As a result, they pioneered a new design process for the automotive industry, where products are inspired by the people, for the people.

The Brief

Simply put, after ‘putting China on wheels’ and truly being the People’s car for decades, the Volkswagen brand was suffering. Being increasingly seen more as ‘sensible and rational’, far away from its former position as a leader, innovator and socially aspirational vehicle. Competitors were fast gaining share and with price, improved quality and the widest vehicle choice available in the world. Our goal was to restore Volkswagen’s leadership image in the minds of Chinese drivers and potential customers and reclaim its rightful place as the most talked about, admired, and innovative car brand in China. We looked into which channels resonated best with innovation and creativity, and would most effectively spread the video and Wang Jia’s (our selected creator) story, in China.


The story caught the attention of the local and international press, including the New York Times, Forbes, The Huffington Post, and ChinaDaily. Volkswagen became #1 in online presence amongst all car brands* and the #1 most talked about car brand on Chinese social media.** The film received 18 million views online, increasing website registrations by 21,000 and idea submissions to a grand total of 141,000. By giving people like Wang Jia a chance to voice their creativity, Volkswagen is now perceived as innovative by 70% of the people.*** The Hover Car set the benchmark for future automotive designs. And the People’s Car Project introduced a new design process for the automotive industry, where products are created by the people, for the people. *Source: t+d/B.I.G. Opinion Mining Tool **Based on representative online survey among Chinese car owners and purchase intenders n=1696. Source: t+d/Millward Brown; 07/2011 ***Source: DPTS Online Survey April 2011


For this we found that popular KOLs would be most effective in spreading the message, so we leveraged Le Jia, on microblogs (as he was in the video.) The target, trending younger (Wang Jia is in her 20s), was active on certain social networks as well as BBS forums. We also researched alternative video sites which could more comprehensively cover our target audience. The Hover Car, a winning idea from a girl in Chengdu, inspired Volkswagen to reimagine the future of cars. Volkswagen applied magnetic levitation technology to her idea, turning it into a concept car. Next, we celebrated her idea by dedicating a film to her, featuring the girl’s parents test-driving the Hover Car. The film was finally revealed to her at a fake movie screening, where her friends, family, and a flash mob made an appearance. Online audiences followed her journey on Chinese video platforms. Together with the people, Volkswagen continued to innovate by launching the Music Car and the Intelligent Key at the Beijing Auto Show.

The Situation

Volkswagen has always built cars for the people. Their brand name in both German and Chinese literally means the ‘People’s Car’. Volkswagen China faces increased competition and falling market share. To counter these challenges, they needed to be perceived as a more innovative brand.

The Strategy

In 2011, Volkswagen launched the People’s Car Project to inspire Chinese people to create new ideas for cars. In 2012, Volkswagen celebrated the people by turning their ideas into reality. Over 121,000 ideas were submitted. The winning ideas came to life as tangible products, short films and showcases at major Chinese auto shows.