The Shoulder Poke by Volkswagen Side Assist

Volkswagen came out with a new the side assist, a device that will help drivers see the usual blind spot that drivers have. The side assist, in fact, is just a different kind of mirror, one that allows a wider view. It’s simple but it’s a really useful addition and change to the usual car. It will, at last, solve this long standing problem of drivers and finally make shoulder check unnecessary.

It is probably this simplicity that inspired Volkswagen to make an equally simple guerrilla campaign.

Instead of going all out on a Facebook or Twitter campaign or coming up with an incredibly funny viral activity such as the “Fun Theory”, they asked a guy to poke people on their shoulder and then avoid being seen immediately. Just a couple of seconds after the poke and almost right after the person who was poked turns to see who poked him or her, the “poker” then gives a card explaining what the poking was about.

The video was short and it was fun but not funny. The funny part comes after you realize that this campaign might be a poster child for a low budget guerrilla campaign.

They actually spent for three things:

  • The calling card
  • Talent fee for the guy that will do the poking
  • The guy who will cover the whole thing

There’s not a lot of planning involved. The pre-production probably was done the same day they visited the located. What’s so hard about putting a guy in the middle of a street to poke people? The hardest part is probably getting the right person to poke people. It has to be someone that’s instantly likeable and personable enough to get the person to “play along” after discovering they’ve been poked live.

There isn’t much to say about the success of the campaign.

The video runs for about a minute making it very convenient to watch. There isn’t a lot to understand about what they were doing. It was pretty straight up. You sit back and watch people being pranked by this Volkswagen guy and on the last 5 or 10 seconds get the explanation on why they are doing all the poking. It’s an easy watch and it’s probably why they got so many hits.

As a marketer, you just try to take away from whatever you can and that is simplicity works. Budget should be the biggest constraint. With a less than $500, you can launch an “effective” campaign.

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