In the Fall of 2005, Volkswagen launched its completely redesigned Passat in the US. To generate excitement, it conducted a word-of-mouth campaign that asked VW enthusiasts to help spread the word about the new Passat.
The idea was to invite VW owners and other enthusiasts to join an exclusive program that would give them privileged access to information about the new Passat. Program members were asked to share the info with friends who might be interested, and then report back on the response. In exchange for participating, members received exclusive Volkswagen rewards.
Working with Arnold Worldwide in Boston, I helped to develop the online component of the campaign, which was called the Alpha Drivers Program.
Members of the program were given access to a password-protected site that offered lots of unique content about the new Passat, including concept sketches from Volkswagen designers in Germany.
The site also gave selected users the chance to sign up for a 24-hour test drive of the new Passat even before the car was available through dealers in the US.
The Alpha Drivers Program was conducted for 12 weeks in Fall 2005, and produced the following results:
- 6,302 registered Alpha Drivers (exceeding goal by 26%)
- 843 test drives completed (exceeding goal by 20%)
- 87,757 reported word-of-mouth interactions (exceeding goal by 17%)
- 278 redeemed purchase incentives
The success of the Alpha Drivers Program earned Volkswagen a 2006 Silver Reggie Award for New Media Promotion from the Product Marketing Association (PMA).