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Volkswagen brings the fun: Giant piano stairs and other ‘Fun Theory’ marketing

October 15, 2009 |  3:09 pm

If stairs played musical notes when you walked on them, would you be more likely to take them?

The video of people skipping the escalator in favor of composing music on the piano stairs of Odenplan subway station in Stockholm, Sweden, has been viewed more than 2.5 million times on YouTube. (Watch it above in the embedded player.)

The video is part of a new viral marketing campaign called “The Fun Theory.” The concept, created by Volkswagen Sweden and ad agency DDB Stockholm, is based on the idea that “fun is the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better.”

Another campaign video shows people picking up trash off the ground in a park just to hear “The World’s Deepest Bin,” a regular trash can wired with motion-activated depth sound effects.

The goal with these fun, do-good videos is to promote VW’s new environmentally friendly BlueMotionTechnologies brand in an increasingly more competitive eco-car market.

“As traditional advertising is becoming less effective, and the competition in the market for environmentally sound cars is becoming more fierce, we believed we needed a more innovative approach to draw attention to BlueMotion,” DDB Stockholm deputy manager Lars Axelsson said in an e-mail.

The video of the giant piano stairs reports that the number of commuters who chose the stairs over the escalator increased 66% when the stairs were musical black-and-white piano keys.

The first of the campaign’s three phases started with the release of the three viral videos, which aims to inspire the public to enter the campaign’s contest, the second phase, by submitting their best video experiment of "The Fun Theory" to the website.

The winner gets a prize of €2500 (about $3,700), and once the competition finishes "The Fun Theory" is “proven” by the video submissions, linking to VW and its new thoughtful technology: Its cars are good for the environment and fun for the driver.

I personally can’t wait to see viral marketing extend its roots from promoting suffrage for fictional vampires to encouraging the world to pick up other people’s trash.

Next on the campaign: a glass recycling game machine, says DDB Stockholm. “By making driving and the world more fun, we turn the VW brand into a hero,” Axelsson said. “Our experiments and our Fun Theory films make the world a better and more fun place to live.”

-- Kelsey Ramos, Los Angeles Times

Video: Giant piano stairs for the VW “Fun Theory” campaign. Credit: YouTube

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