Monday, 25 July 2011
Greenpeace targets VW with “Dark Side” Viral Campaign
July 15th, 2011 by Katrina Percy
Written by VAN’s guest blogger Carla Stone
If you’re an advertising fanatic, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the sensational SuperBowl commercial for Volkswagen, featuring a little boy in a Darth Vader costume trying in vain to use the Force, finally reacting with surprise and delight when his attempt on his dad’s new VW Passat finally pay off. The ad was cute and clever, and unsurprisingly generated widespread viral sharing and a lot of positive PR for VW. However, the tables could soon be turning as the result of the latest campaign by Greenpeace – in which the environmentalists tackle the “Dark Side” of Volkswagen.
Greenpeace has constructed an elaborate viral campaign centred on Volkswagen’s Star Wars theme, highlighting the auto company’s opposition to CO2 emission cuts. The campaign website – titled Volkswagen, The Dark Side – calls aspiring Jedi to “Join the Rebellion” and convince VW to change their ways by signing a petition online.
The activists have also created a viral video parody of VW’s wildly popular viral campaign, in which a team of Star Wars “good guys” – a including a pint-sized Yoda, Chewbacca and C3P0 – confront little Darth and try to turn him away from the Dark Side. Meanwhile, in space, an ominous Death Star replica emblazoned with the VW logo readies its lasers to destroy the Earth.
Greenpeace’s next step involved some guerrilla tactics; a group of activists in London covered a number of billboards throughout the city with banners of their own design, featuring an image of the iconic Vader helmet with the VW logo in place of the mouth. The Rebellion continued as Greenpeace environmentalists dressed up as Stormtroopers took to the streets of London to spread the message.
VW responded to Greenpeace’s accusations of a poor environmental record with refreshing candour; Volkswagen’s head of press, Paul Buckett, has stated that the company will give their full attention to the issues raised by Greenpeace. Mr Buckett’s message to the public was honest and straightforward; “If you want green fuel, then we can give it to you” he stated; “But you’ll need to pay more. Still want it?”
The Greenpeace guerrilla campaign has set the social media world abuzz, with the Dark Side video boasting more than 507 078 views within three days of launching. The campaign has gathered a huge Facebook following, and led to #VW as a trending Twitter topic. However, Volkswagen’s open attitude and gracious response to a difficult PR situation has been every bit as impressive as the campaign targeting the company; the “Dark Side” ads may be extremely popular, but they may not have the effect on VW’s reputation that Greenpeace activists are hoping for…