So Volkswagen decided to make use of the excess talking black box thingys it created along with Times of India for the ‘Speaking newspaper’ 2 years ago. Result? A vibrating black thingy that doesn’t talk. Add a cringe-inducing, simple caption – Feel the shiver of excitement!

See that black box in the picture above? That’s where the vibrating thingy was stuck.

My first reaction? Really… Volkswagen?

Seeing this so-called media innovation (for media innovation’s sake?), I was reminded of a product package I recently saw and pondered deeply. It was for Vanish stain remover. This one!

The product packing actually says, ‘Wow. Removes even tough dried-in stains’. So, who is speaking to the customer, from the product’s pack? The brand manager? Reinforcing that the customer should go ‘wow’ at the product’s promise?

The Volkswagen idea seems largely similar in its forced attempt to make people feel excited. The talking newspaper at least said something (pun intended), but the vibrating thingy (what else to call it?) just vibrates and offers a tacky experience to an otherwise classy, technologically superior (perception-wise, at least) brand.

Who does Volkswagen intend to attract with this vibrating print ad? People who aren’t aware of Volkswagen the brand and are looking at brands like Tata and Maruti? If yes, this perhaps does the job well. It is simple and silly enough to attract mass-market attention with something utterly gimmicky. This is the equivalent of a Sanjay Leela Bhansali proclaiming that he wants a Rs.100 crore film too and unleashing a monstrosity of Rowdy Rathore proportions.

Finally, what works… is a success. Would love to know if Volkswagen moves the needle in the segment that they intended this ad innovation at.

A parallel thought, while on that point – how would this impact the metro readers who think highly of Volkswagen’s classy pedigree and innovative streak?