NEW YORK - Volkswagen is trying to recreate the magic of its 1960s marketing of the Beetle by bringing its "Think Blue." marketing campaign to the United States to promote eco-friendly driving and green initiatives.
The campaign - underway in Europe since last year - launches to coincide with a VW partnership with the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and Tuesday's grand opening of its new factory in Chattanooga, Tenn.
VW calls the Tennessee plant "one of the world's greenest automobile factories."
"'Think Blue.' bears witness to our holistic understanding of sustainability," said Jonathan Browning, CEO of the Volkswagen Group of America. "On the one hand, the new Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga demonstrates just how eco-friendly and resource saving automobile production can be today. And on the other, we are seeking to intensify our dialog with art and society on key issues of the future through our cooperation with MoMA."
"Think Blue." marketing will tout the automaker's eco-friendly products and technologies as well as efficient manufacturing processes.
"Volkswagen is also seeking to heighten broad public awareness for sustainable actions and encourage everyone to play an active part," the company said in a statement.
Revisiting the 60s
"Think Blue." print and on-line ads will debut today along with billboards placed near the Museum of Modern Art and the factory in Chattanooga. A national marketing campaign will follow.
"Think Blue." harkens back to the brand's "Think Small" slogan of the `60s used to pitch the VW Beetle.
Advertising Age – a sister publication of Automotive News - called "Think Small" the top ad campaign of the 20th century. The marketing touted the small features of the Beetle in an era of big and flashy, and powerful Detroit-made cars.
Volkswagen is expanding its "Think Blue." initiative with the Museum of Modern Art partnership to include social and cultural issues.
The program announced today includes development of an international contemporary art exhibition, sponsorship of the museum's online education initiatives, a series of installations in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden and the donation of two works by Belgian artist Francis Alÿs.
Artists give us food for thought and let us look at the world from new angles. MoMA is one of the world's leading institutions in the field of contemporary art. With its persuasive expertise and its educational mission, it is our partner of choice," Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen AG, said in a statement.
"This partnership expresses our corporate commitment to take responsibility for the environment and for society."
VW said the new campaign coincides with the development of environmentally friendly products and technologies under the "Blue Motion" label.
VW said one of the first futurist products that goes into production is the XL1that debuted as a prototype in January at the Qatar auto show. The carbon-fiber body car has a plug-in diesel-electric powertrain and gets more than 200 miles per gallon.
VW will begin producing a limited number of XL1s starting in 2013 and will sell the car for an undisclosed price in Europe, the United States and China.
VW said the XL1 emits only 24 g/km of carbon dioxide. VW said the Chattanooga plant that is producing a new Passat sedan designed for the U.S. market complies with the U.S. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design - or LEED - standard for efficient factory and production processes.
Big sales goals
On Tuesday, Volkswagen will officially open the $1 billion U.S. factory in Chattanooga where it plans to build up to 150,000 Passats annually.
The U.S. Passat goes on sale in the fall. It will be priced at about $20,000 – about $8,000 less than the smaller European car with the same name. VW will announce Passat pricing on Thursday.
The car will play a major role in VW's plans to increase U.S. sales to 800,000 vehicles by 2018. Last year, VW sold 256,830 vehicles in the United States .
The factory is expected to increase production up to 500,000 vehicles a year and produce a second vehicle in the coming years, possibly a mid-size SUV and vehicles for VW's Audi brand.