Shortlisted 2020




Entered by:

PHD Global Business


DDB Berlin

Volkswagen - For The Many, Not The Few - The ID.3

The Challenge

Democratisation starts with Volkswagen’s name which translates to ‘the people’s car’. The Beetle brought an affordable high-quality model to the masses, followed by the Golf’s affordable technology, and now they hope to bring e-mobility to the many, not the privileged few. Current competitor offerings are too expensive, have low­ range and long charging times which has accentuated consumer uncertainty. Despite selling more hybrids than many other manufacturers, Volkswagen is not known for it’s electrified vehicles. They are suffering from lagging brand trust in the wake of diesel-gate and now have an opportunity to turn the tables – The Volkswagen ID.3; the people’s ELECTRIC car .

This provided a clear challenge and set of objectives:

Challenge: Ignite the democratisation of electric vehicles.


  1. Make the Volkswagen ID.3 synonymous with e-mobility. They were ranked 17th in Electric Vehicles (EV) leadership across the EU.
  2. Generate 30k deposits of the ID.3 people couldn’t even see!

To turn around these misfortunes and make the Volkswagen ID.3 synonymous withe-mobility, we developed a two-tiered approach to communication that drove reappraisal of the brand and allowed innovation to flourish. Playing with the tension between mass and narrow media, we convinced 30,000 people to deposit €1,000 and brought Volkswagen and e-mobility closer together. However, the biggest twist was that we weren’t allowed to show the car!

The Creative Solution

Volkswagen produced the ID.3 with the principle of democratisation at its heart. The problem was that e-mobility innovation might be exciting and enticing for early adopters, but most people simply sought the familiar and were not ready or convinced.

This unlocked our consumer insight – ‘This technology is too futuristic and does not fit my everyday life’.

People lacked confidence in the technologies capabilities. Changing from a ‘reliable’ combustion engine to a ‘futuristic’ electric required reassurance. To motivate the masses a central thought was crafted to reflect both the core principle of democratisation and to bridge the perception gap. The ID.3 inspired new and exciting possibilities for everyday life.

Central thought; ‘NOW YOU CAN (NYC). The ID.3 is an EV that ‘s right for you that allows you to do what you couldn’t do before’. This had accessibility at its core to bring innovation to a wider group of people.

For NYC to thrive, we created two distinct roles for communication:

  1. Fame : Talking to the masses through a high-reaching emotional manifesto to announce Volkswagen’s intent within e-mobility.
  2. Persuasion: Tightly targeting early adopters to break down barriers and land desirability of a model no-one could see through PR and digital channels.

The Media/Content Amplification Solution

The ‘Fame’ layer  utilised an empowering manifesto to  emotionally  prime people to  feel like EV is ready for  the masses – without having to show  the ID.3. In tandem, this drove reappraisal to shift brand perception. To achieve the feeling of democratisation, full takeovers of selected European cities were executed using broadcast channels. To help alleviate people’s concerns a tailor-made TV spot and immersive 270 cinematic experience was deployed showcasing a limited amount of the ID.3’s capabilities . A sub-layer of authenticity was used to promote real people’s views through a partnership with Twitter & JCDecaux scaling across DOOH.

For the ‘Persuasion’ layer of communication, we wanted to drive intrigue, address specific barriers and kick-start ordering. The campaign began with a PR event in Wolfsburg to announce Volkswagen’s e-mobility ambition while teasing a camouflaged ID.3. Industry professionals reacted ecstatically and promoted the ID.3 through an authentic expert lens.

After the event, we wanted to maintain intrigue, excitement and to  tackle category  barriers. To  do this, providing tangible  proof points were required to  sell desire beyond the cosmetics of the model. We seeded social and video content connected with the early adopter’s passions and interests. Research uncovered key lifestyle topics we embraced to embed the ID.3 into people’s daily  lives  harnessing the feeling of accessibility. This  helped  our  audience  bridge the ID.3  with stronger  e­ mobility solutions compared to  our competitors  even though they couldn’t  see it.  Facebook, lnstagram and YouTube lead generator BETAs were tested and optimised to nudge people closer to ordering.

To complement the two-tiered approach, a bespoke ‘ID. Hub’ within the Volkswagen website was created to educate e-mobility intenders. The content explained how the ID.3 could fit into daily life and provided solutions to general concerns. This empowered our ability to harvest prospects and optimise site content over time .

The Result

The campaign was a great success and we achieved positive results against our objectives:

  1. Make the Volkswagen ID.3 synonymous with e-mobility.
    • EV leadership – the campaign elevated Volkswagen to the #1 most search brand in the e-mobility arena moving ahead of Tesla for the first time (using a proprietary “search curiosity” metric developed with Google).
    • establishing the sub -brand – we doubled the association of ID. with the Volkswagen Masterbrand (22% – 45%), and tripled overall consumer familiarity with Volkswagen ID. (5% – 15%).
  1. Generate 30k deposits of the ID.3 which people couldn’t even see!
    • 30k deposits achieved leading up to the unveiling at the IAA auto show in Frankfurt – whoop!
    • Website conversion target exceeded by more than x2.