Brooke Shields highlights VW Routan ad campaign

Volkswagen is using model and actress Brooke Shields and a virtual baby-making Web site to sell its Routan minivan, which was set to arrive at dealerships last week.

In an ad campaign launched last week, Volkswagen uses Shields to persuade young, affluent couples considering purchasing a minivan that they can meet their families’ needs while purchasing a stylish European brand, said Brian Thomas, a Volkswagen general manager of marketing and communications.

“There’s this notion of Volkswagen magic inside a minivan,” Thomas said. “It’s almost like there’s a little Beetle in there, a whole little Beetle trying to get out.”

The Routan begins hitting dealership lots later this week with a base priceof $25,390, including $690 shipping.

In the ads, Shields plays a serious spokeswoman addressing high birth rates that she says are caused by couples who want a Routan but believe they need children to drive a minivan.

In keeping with the theme of conception, Volkswagen is launching a Web site later this month that will allow people to make virtual Routan babies they can send to friends through e-mail and social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, complete with “a healthy dose of Routan information,” Thomas said.

The babies’ photos use facial recognition technology to mimic features found in uploaded photos of their “parents.”

“What we’re endeavoring to do here is tap into a very strong, inherent curiosity. … What would the product of my genes and another person’s genes look like?” Thomas said. “People will share this with other people, and it’s a great opportunity to allow our product to go along for the ride.”

The ad campaign also features ads on Web sites of family-oriented companies such as Nick Jr. and Disney and ads for people who are searching for minivans on auto sites.The ads target parents under the age of 45 who have two or more children, with at least one child younger than 6. Target families make at least $75,000 annually, Thomas said.

The campaign, handled by the Miami-based ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, will also include ads in the October editions of magazines such as Everyday with Rachael Ray, Cookie and Health, along with magazines for auto aficionados and men’s publications, Thomas said, adding, “Husbands, frankly, tend to talk their wives into these things.”

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