Volkswagen of America Inc. hopes to lure college students into its certified used vehicles by offering free entertainment and handing out free VW-branded merchandise.
The marketing ca mpaign, 'The Major Motion Picture Show,' includes a mobile movie theater and entertainment festival aimed at young buyers.
The festival is scheduled at 16 college campuses in VW's top nine markets from Oct. 4 through Nov. 22. During the event, students are given free VW-branded items such as T-shirts, caps and boomerangs. They can enter contests to win beach chairs and they are invited to see a free movie, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, complete with popcorn and soft drinks.
Each event is hosted by local VW dealership representatives who are on hand to answer questions and to distribute information about VW's new and used vehicles.
The goal is to introduce VW to college students and showcase its late-model used vehicles as affordable, 'cool' transportation, said Heidi Korte, manager of Volkswagen Promotions. She said 800 to 1,000 students are expected to attend each event.
'It's a way to bring the VW brand to students in a non-hard-sell manner and convey that we are a fun brand to be associated with,' said Korte. 'We've been very pleased with the turnout.'
Vehicles offered under VW's Assured Certified Pre-Owned program are off-lease vehicles no more than five model years old with up to 75,000 miles. They undergo a 72-point inspection and are reconditioned. The certified vehicles are covered by a 12-month/12,000-mile limited warranty an d 24-hour roadside assistance for one year.
OPENED IN MINNESOTA
'The Major Motion Picture Show' opened on Oct. 4 at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minn. The festivals begin at noon and are held in big tents on campus.
Ralph Petersen, Internet manager and VW representative at Clements Chevrolet-VW-Nissan in Mankato, Minn., said he chatted with more than 100 students when the show visited Mankato State.
Petersen said the students were mostly interested in the prices of both new and used VWs.
'It was a subtle, soft-sell way of getting the VW name out there without the pressure,' said Petersen, whose store sells about 12 to 15 new and two or three used VWs a month.
'We don't have a lot of used product. We're going to the auction in Chicago to get some that are coming off lease,' he said.
A WEB SITE, TOO
The VW Web site featuring the New Beetle 1.8 Turbo, www.turbonium.com, is shown on computer terminals, giving students the opportunity to surf the site.
The show is slated to visit colleges in Boston; Chicago; Hartford, Conn.; Los Angeles; Minneapolis; New York; Philadelphia; Providence, R.I.; and San Francisco.
Two of VW's marketing partners attend the events. Mountain bike maker Trek USA shows up for every event with 20 bicycles that are available for demo rides, and K2, which sells skis and snowboards, also demonstrates its products.