Video: Volkswagen's Talking Newspaper Ad

September 23, 2010
Times are getting mighty weird, folks. It took me a while to get used to people talking to themselves in their cars before I realized they had hands-free devices for the mobile phones. Then came the Bluetooth device in the ear so people could walk down the street, appearing to talk to themselves, while actually having a phone conversation. OK, I am used to that now even though I can’t always tell the difference between the mentally unstable patient recently released from the clinic who forgot to take his medication and the hotshot Internet dude who’s deep in a conversation with his buddies about the latest app he just created that makes bodily noises.

And now comes along this interesting attempt at media convergence, shall we call it. I just read in Wired that in the Times of India newspaper, “Volkswagen paid the publication to fit an audio chip inside the pages that plays in an endless loop until you close the paper.” When a reader opens the paper, you hear the ad for the VW Vento, on a continuous loop. Fold up the paper and it stops.

I think this is pretty ingenious, even if it’s a one-time stunt. You can read about the technology behind it in the Wired article, but from a car ad point of view, this is a first as far as I know. I won’t go into the possible environmental waste this thing probably created, seeing as it’s not paper so I guess it’s not too recyclable. But I digress.

And on a possibly comedic note, I could just see a bunch of Indian businessmen sitting around, sipping their tea or coffee, unfolding their newspapers and then being startled by the sound of a voice coming from their newspaper. Can you imagine how many people that caught off guard? How many people went to bed to read the newspaper only to open the front page and then have a deep, authoritative, male voice start speaking to them from out of nowhere. Bet you that caught more than one person by surprise.

Speaking Newspaper


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