With safety being a hot topic of discussion throughout the year, as well as a priority for Volkswagen, MWW Group devised a program to successfully engage Volkswagen dealerships nationwide with consumers and execute the automaker’s first-ever national dealership PR campaign.  MWW Group integrated existing Volkswagen assets and created "Safety Saturday," a day in which dealerships across the country invited consumers with types of vehicles to come by for a free vehicle and car seat safety inspection.  With significant dealer participation, dealers were able to reap the benefits of the nearly 14.6 million radio listeners and the 435,000 television viewers that heard about the events as a result of our media relations efforts. The ultimate result was a spike in service calls and consumer foot traffic in the showrooms. 


Situation Analysis

Building and maintaining a strong perception about Volkswagen’s vehicle safety has continued to be a top priority among the automaker’s leadership.  Until recently, only the advertising and marketing teams have created campaigns to communicate the brilliance and engineering behind the safety of a Volkswagen vehicle.  As VW’s lifestyle PR agency of record, MWW Group was charged with the task of creating the first-ever PR campaign that promoted Volkswagen vehicle safety. 


However, as a lifestyle PR agency, one of our main challenges was gaining the attention of media outside of the automotive realm, while also grabbing the attention of the car safety savvy consumers.  On top of appealing to media and consumers alike, another important factor for Volkswagen was engaging dealers at a local level with a national program.  These dealerships were looking for a seamless, turn-key event to help spike their foot traffic during the month of September, which is a month typically lower in showroom traffic and vehicle service than the rest of the year.


Volkswagen also had existing safety assets in-house that had not been leveraged through a national campaign solely designated for safety.  MWW Group saw an opportunity to tap into these resources and create a specific day designated to giving consumers a free vehicle inspection while educating them on proper car seat installations. This task would require many moving parts; by bringing other departments within VW on board, creating online dealership tools and a car giveaway and sending media and marketing mailers. 


Our objectives included:

·        Creating a campaign that would tie all of Volkswagen's existing assets and educational information into one specific event and allow dealers to seamlessly execute a safety event during the month of September. 

·        Making media aware of Volkswagen's safety initiatives, not only at a national level, but at a local level as well. 

·        Creating materials and information that would be relevant and appeal to lifestyle media and their consumers.    

·        Alerting consumers of this unique day and the benefits of these inspections needed to be communicated through online interaction, incentives and informative mailings. 


Research and Analysis

MWW Group knew that a crucial part of getting any safety program off the ground was tapping into Program Professionals, the safety education nonprofit housed within Volkswagen, and the company’s SIT SAFE technicians. These technicians are certified to perform educational car seat installations. Tapping into this service would allow for the dealerships to perform the free safety and car seat inspections.  


MWW Group worked with Program Professionals to find crucial information and statistics to aid in the program development and grab the attention of media and consumers. By using facts, like 90 percent of car seats are installed incorrectly, we created safety collateral that would not only engage the dealerships, but also educate media and consumers on lesser-known safety statistics and facts. Through consistent media outreach and audits to lifestyle media, MWW Group was aware that in order to engage the media and, in turn, consumers, these facts needed to be relevant and educational. 


MWW Group also worked closely with Volkswagen and the dealers to find a date in need of a showroom traffic pick-me-up. With this knowledge, MWW Group was able to locate the perfect date and implement the right consumer and media collateral.    



In order to create a fun and unique safety campaign that would appeal to media, consumers and the VW dealerships, it was important to express a unified message centered around a specific event.  With the creation of "Safety Saturday," MWW Group was able to tie each element of the program together.  This multi-faceted safety day would focus on both general vehicle and child seat safety. This would provide the opportunity for all dealers to utilize their certified SIT SAFE technicians to perform these car seat installations. 


The campaign would provide complimentary car seat inspections and education to any parent, grandparent or child care provider through the VW dealerships. And, since these general vehicle inspections would be performed by Volkswagen Certified Technicians on any and all make and model vehicles, consumer and media outreach would not be limited to specific car owners.  This would also enable some dealers to grow participation from their local police and fire departments and the community, while also offering family entertainment. 


To help engage and educate consumers, a Web site designed specifically for Safety Saturday would be linked to Volkswagen's home page to help educate and enlist consumers to participate in the important inspections, while also offering a car giveaway. 


This program would not only help educate dealers on how to engage and teach their current customers on the features of their vehicles, but also help to drive in new business through consumer collateral and media outreach. Volkswagen's concern for vehicular safety would be top-of-mind for everyone and Safety Saturday would give the dealerships a chance to open their doors for an additional cause on top of selling cars, parts or service.



On the dealership front, MWW Group began by presenting the Safety Campaign at Volkswagen's Regional Marketing meetings to secure participation.  Relaying the ease of the event, MWW Group created a Web site on the Volkswagen dealer hub to ensure that all critical information regarding the event was posted.  These elements were all created to guarantee that each dealer was up-to-date on the program, and was armed with all information needed in the showrooms, as well as for the SIT SAFE and service technicians.  And, in order for each dealership to perform the free car seat inspection, a SIT SAFE Technician had to be on hand.  Therefore, MWW Group worked closely with Program Professionals to provide these certification courses for those dealerships in need of a technician.  Dealerships would also have consumer goody bags and educational information on hand to send consumers away with. 


To help engage consumers, MWW Group implemented a car sweepstakes giveaway online, as well as sent targeted mailers regarding Safety Saturday. These mailers were specifically tailored to each participating dealership. 


To alert the media and prepare them for Volkswagen's safety month, MWW Group created a media mailer which included fun facts and safety items to bring a creative element to the program while also educating the media.


All of these elements were conveyed through extensive media outreach as well as, media tours and proactive pitching.



MWW Group was able to execute a successful nationwide campaign with a local angle for each of the dealerships' markets that produced tremendous results. Our media outreach efforts blanketed every media facet possible, from radio to online.  The exposure was kicked off by coverage in the NY Daily News and Zink magazine; both touting Volkswagen's safety month. 


Nearly 14.6 MILLION radio listeners tuned in to one of the 1,400 stations while also capturing over 435,000 TV viewers – stations across the nation were all buzzing about Volkswagen's safety program.   In addition to the broadcast coverage, the Safety Saturday Web site saw over 22,000 visitors sign up for the 2008 Passat giveaway.  


MWW Group was also flooded with dealer feedback raving about the event, the increased foot traffic and service calls during the month of September—2,021 throughout the length of the program, which was attributable to our outreach and marketing collateral.