2011 VW Jetta: No Mo' Mojo?

June 27, 2010

VW, the brand and manufacturer that brought us the Beetle, the Golf, not to mention innovative and creative ads for decades, seems to be losing its mojo, at least in North America, and quite paradoxically as it's designing its best cars ever. How can I say this knowing VW is on a path to replace Toyota as the world's biggest car maker and is doing it with high-tech, high style and a high and mighty chairman? Everyone knows VW is rocketing up the sales charts with great products that are hitting their marks almost everywhere on the globe (U.S. not included). Isn't it famous for solid cars and amazing ads that have stuck with people for decades?

Well, it all started when I checked out the launch video for the 2011 VW Jetta--and let me tell you one thing--VW seems to have lost its mojo, baby. I will not go into the engineering for this car. VW knows how to design a car well. Nice engines, superb interiors, nice handling, awesome build quality. But the Jetta is all quite bland. The car, the tag line and the ad. Like unsalted butter on a stale Bretzel. Like a mediocre bratwurst without the tangy mustard. Like a flat beer.

Whether it's the exterior or the interior. Competent, smooth, but come on, Walter D'Silva's boys have come up with way better duds (like the new Golf, for example). This one is beveled smooth, but it's wholly anonymous. It doesn't stand out in a sea of cars. No pizazz. It's not as nice to look at as the Golf . Or any other VW for that matter. Strike 4, Herr Winterkorn.

And then there is the utterly uncreative tag line from the launch: Great. For the price of good. This is brilliant marketing?? People got paid cash money for sitting around a table to come up with this?! My pain killer-riddled father after falling down a flight of stairs and sustaining head wounds of a serious nature could come up with something more creative than that. [Note: VW is pitching price now because it didn't sell enough cars with their premium approach, so prices will be dropped by 10 percent or so according to what I read.] How about something like, "VW Jetta--A car that normal Volk can actually afford." Or maybe "The new Jetta--We beveled off the edges so you wouldn't get too excited and cut yourself." Why am I not in marketing again? But I digress.

And to cap off the vanilla parade, check out the Jetta launch video. Isn't this meant to promote the car and raise excitement? It really underwhelms, it's as dull as an unpolished bowling ball--especially compared to the many wonderful VW ads that have come before. VW has done way better stuff than this.But I do have an idea why VW has taken this approach. VW has rarely understood or even cared about the U.S. market, so it's going with safe, middle-of-the-road, sanely priced German goodness in order to lull beefy Americans back to VW dealerships. It's an odd approach for a company that has been so creative and progressive in so many ways, but what do I know. I have no mo' mojo either. I drive a minivan.

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