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New VW minivan helps you make a virtual baby

September 10, 2008 |  1:28 pm

cars autos Los Angeles Times VW Volkswagen Routan babies Brooke Shields postpartum depression minivan advertising campaign Madison Avenue And so it begins. Volkswagen’s new minivan, the Routan, goes on sale, accompanied by a typical (for VW) tongue-in-cheek advertising campaign. Because minivans are all about families, this campaign’s theme is babies.

The marketing folk at Volkswagen hired Brooke Shields -- who famously once suffered from postpartum depression -- as their spokesperson. It’s not obvious if the irony behind this choice was deliberate, but she's found in their video urging people to have children for love, not just as an excuse to buy a Routan. So far, so Madison Avenue.

A more intriguing angle is the Routan BabyMaker 3000, which -- contrary to how it might sound -- is not a handsome, virile android but a mini-website where prospective parents can input digital photographs of themselves. The software then melds their pixels as if they were genes, resulting in a picture of what the fruit of their union might look like.

In an ideal world, there would be a link to the BabyMaker 3000 site, but it doesn’t go live until later this month. And the intrepid Dan Neil will soon be testing the VW Routan, so keep an eye out for that too, all you fertile folk.

-- Colin Ryan

Photo: VW