Silver Spike

Case Film


Presentation Image

Product / ServiceVOLKSWAGEN POLO
CategoryD01. Social Video
Production RIOT CONTENT Northcote, AUSTRALIA


Name Company Position
Ben Welsh DDB Sydney Chief Creative Officer
Tara Ford DDB Sydney Executive Creative Director
Vince Osmond DDB Sydney Creative Partner
Jade Manning DDB Sydney Creative Partner
Tommy Cehak DDB Sydney Senior Creative
Jared Wicker DDB Sydney Creative
Andrew Little DDB Sydney Chief Executive Officer
Priya Patel DDB Sydney Managing Director
Mandy Whatson DDB Sydney Managing Partner
Oliver Gould DDB Sydney Senior Business Director
Alexandra Lawton DDB Sydney Senior Business Manager
Sevda Cemo DDB Sydney Head of Integrated Content
Sam Harris DDB Sydney Producer
Ben Wilks Volkswagen General Manager Marketing
Rowena Kanna Volkswagen Marketing Communications Manager
Hayley Phillips Volkswagen Brand Communications Specialist
Matt Weston Riot Director
Dave Christison Riot Producer


The new Volkswagen Polo is a great choice for younger, millennial drivers. It’s inexpensive, fun – and packed with safety features. But for this generation, driving runs the risk of slowly evolving into an unproductive chore. And its safety features don’t make the car any more appealing. That put us in a difficult situation. We needed to make these safety features feel fun and relevant to a younger generation. And we couldn’t just tell them with a flashy television spot, because they probably wouldn’t see it – or care.

Describe the creative idea

The Volkswagen Polo is packed with safety tech. And while this safety tech doesn’t excite our younger audience, it does help them fail less. So we found a way into their social feeds by creating a fail video – with no fail. Instead, our safety tech saved the day. We used a strategic seeding process to leak an unbranded version of this video to viral sites and meme pages younger drivers loved. Then, we let it do its thing in the viral universe. Several million views and dozens of international publications later, we retargeted the same audience with a branded version of the video on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, strategically revealing the cheeky caper to potential Polo customers.

Describe the strategy

While the new Polo looks great, its biggest standout features are its safety features and innovations - elements that are not key purchase drivers our target audience - young SINKS & DINKS (20 – 34 years old). This demographic are digital natives and connectivity is crucial to them. They value the opinions of their peers and influencers, and can navigate and evade the heavy-handed messaging often served to them in traditional formats. By tapping into the viral world and hiding our message in a fail video, we got our audience to actively share our messaging and promote the new Polo. The best part? They ended up celebrating the cheeky reveal that this video was part of the Volkswagen Polo campaign.

Describe the execution

The internet can spot a fake video in seconds. We spent days making sure our video looked like any other user-generated viral video – from orientation to scaled-back quality. Next, we had to leak it online. But we needed a real person with a fitting social feed: @jstrakertroublemaker. Acting like he had filmed it, we executed a strategic viral seeding strategy, sharing the video with a custom database of viral sites and meme pages. The views racked up immediately, across dozens of websites, videos and TV shows. We tracked them all, waiting until popularity had reached its peak. Then, we implemented a retargeting strategy that identified promising leads who had viewed the video, and followed it up with a branded version that appeared in their Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat feeds. Planning began in 2017, while the creative execution began in July 2018. We launched the unfail video in August 2018.

List the results

The result was 147.6 million views (and rising), with $17.8 million in earned media. All leading to a record 11.8% increase in market share and 95% increase in dealer leads – smashing the intended business goals. The Polo Unfail campaign also had a targeted brand lift study associated with it, which produced hugely favourable results for the Volkswagen brand and Polo as an individual model. This included 5.3% lift in Awareness, a 4.2% increase in safety association and a 5.9% increase in affinity and brand perception. The campaign also increased unique visitors to the Volkswagen homepage recording a 9.4% lift.


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