At the Mobile Advertising 2009 conference in Amsterdam last week, we were treated to an eye-opening presentation from Jens Klitzke, who is Head of International CRM Programs, at Volkswagen.

Jens walked through an excellent case study surrounding the launch of the Volkswagen Tiguan.

Basically, they built a “long lead” marketing campaign to promote the launch of the new Tiguan before the car even existed – using the web and mobile.

A quick summary of Jens’ presentation is below.


  • The VW Tiguan campaign launched in 8 countries
  • There were 14,000 SMS sent as a result of interaction with the campaign
  • The campaign site had 150,000-page impressions
  • There were 6,000 downloads of the mobile application
  • The campaign was well-received inside VW as it generated test drives from mobile campaigns
  • Normally in Germany, you need 8 test drives to sell 1 car
  • A customer who buys a car has 9 contacts with the brand (eg 8 TV + 1 mobile)
  • VW think performance-based marketing is the future but the TV guys still win out “we made them love the brand”
  • Mobile is more expensive than online
  • VW booked lots of ad impressions with operators  which were expensive

The most arresting point from Jens presentation was that yet in spite of the VW campaign, there is still no budget assigned to mobile.  The current marketing spend is divided between online, print and TV.  Amazingly, mobile receives just 1% of the online budget!

Jens has been involved in the digital and agency space for a while, and he also thinks that we are with mobile now where we were with online in 2000 – which is not unexpected.  One of the strong discussion themes on day 2 was that we need to learn from our experience with web advertising – or risk making the same mistakes as we transition marketing onto mobile.

The other piece of irony is that inside VW locations, phones with cameras are prohibited (to stop spy photos leaking out) – so people inside VW cannot see the mobile ad campaigns and those people visiting their offices to show them the latest in mobile have to leave their phones at security…

The key takeout for me is even with a strong and progressive automotive brand like VW, who have invested heavily in a mobile presence for the launch of a car AND have seen test drive and sales conversions AND with someone like Jens driving this at VW – they only spend 1 per cent of the digital budget on mobile.

Clearly, more work has to be done with measurable case studies such as this one to prove the power and value of mobile, one brand at a time.  Hats off to Jens and Volkswagen for taking a chance with mobile advertising.