What it says on the tin
There’s talking the talk and there’s walking the walk. Comparing two recent campaigns whose objective it was to demonstrate a car’s fuel efficiency, there’s little doubt as to which of the two attempts is the most efficient. Ford Territory and VW Bluemotion both agree that driving the longest distance possible on a single tank is a great benefit, but working from what one can only assume are basically identical client briefs, they approached the task very differently.
First up is Ford, and they went with the safe option of a TVC. Mind you, this is 2012, and the news of this thing called Facebook has reached Ford, so, like a dorky dad awkwardly namedropping Facebook, they based the idea around the social medium. Luckily, the chosen employee is the only one on Facebook with 200+ friends living along a straight line in a conveniently limited geographical area. While the ad itself pretends to be factual, it feels about as realistic as an episode of The Shire, and the once-great benefit is thus thrown into the red ocean that is commercial-break messaging, fighting against the odds for survival.
In Norway, VW takes product demonstration to the next level. By creating a game, people genuinely engage with the message. Entertainment value, competitiveness, and a car as 1st prize are powerful incentives to invest time, effort and social currency to interact with the brand; to calculate the distance the car will travel, and to collaborate on “beating the house” (and as an added bonus: by appealing to our inner gamblers we are biologically inclined to participate as the VW-branded dopamine is allowed to flow freely). When betting is closed, the campaign goes offline to demonstrate in practice – and with everyone’s undivided attention – that the car delivers on the initial promise; figuratively driving home the main objective.
So which car is the most fuel efficient? VW drove 1570 km versus Ford’s 970 km. But it doesn’t really matter. The numbers are abstract and both sound impressive on their own. Also, the two cars are different, both in size and type of fuel. What matters is the degree to which we believe their claims to superior fuel efficiency, and thus which brand we’re more inclined to like and trust. And that is the car we will perceive to be the most fuel efficient.