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Kothe on how VW from an unknown name has become a challenger brand

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Kothe on how VW from an unknown name has become a challenger brand

“If I throw a coin at you, you’ll catch it, if I throw ten, you’ll catch none”, said Lutz Kothe, Head of Marketing and PR, Volkswagen passenger cars, India, the second speaker for the day at Pitch CMO Summit 2011. In his comment on the marketing initiatives of Volkswagen India, Kothe unraveled his secret behind the success of the brand. Sharp positioning in addition to innovation has elevated Volkswagen’s brand awareness of eight per cent in 2009 to 44 per cent in 2011.

The topic for Kothe was, “From a late entrant to a potential leader: How Volkswagen is doing it”. He began by elaborating on the demerit of being a late entrant by saying, “The challenge for brand building as a late entrant into any market is simultaneously risk and opportunity”. The risk is in understanding the consumer’s rational and emotional needs and packaging the same with the profile of the brand and the product without building on the brand heritage.

The opportunity, he said, is that one can start with a blank sheet of paper and keep growing while building aspirations around it as well. Kothe constantly reiterated on the importance of understanding the market and at the same time thinking out of the box. He gave examples of the various print campaigns that Volkswagen has taken up in the past.

These campaigns created ripples in the Indian market and got the people talking about the brand. From a late entrant to a potential leader in a cluttered market, it wasn’t an easy task when Kothe took the reins of the Volkswagen brand in India in 2009. He has been the brain behind the brand's much talked about print campaigns including the first roadblock, the talking newspaper, the Polo hole, painting the newspapers blue for Think Blue or the Silver Jacket for Jetta. The talking newspaper was the star in all of these campaigns.

He further shared that for every new launch or campaign VW has followed the same strategy of creating a buzz with one huge campaign in print and then targeting the core audience through digital media and selective TV channels. Owing to this strategy (of first dominating and then going selective on media) has helped making Polo and Vento the most awaited launches of 2010.
Kothe focused on the need of being innovative and at the same time being positioned as a brand that sticks to its commitments. “We want to tell consumers that brands come and go but we are here to stay and we’ll be here forever,” said Kothe.

Kothe later also elaborated on the 360-degree approach that Volkswagen takes up in the form of magazines, web portals, hoardings, etc. He also shared the rankings that Volkswagen has achieved, courtesy the marketing initiatives that the brand took up. In terms of innovation, Volkswagen has been ranked two, in terms of value, three and in terms of responsibility two.

The presentation ended with a rather interactive Q&A session where Kothe further elaborated on Volkswagen’s brand values of innovation, value and responsibility.

While Jagran was the presenting sponsor of the Pitch CMO Summit 2011, in association with Zee Bangla, the other associate sponsors included Times Television Network and Open magazine.


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