DIGITAL ON THE STREETS: “Airmail for Volkswagen”
Airmail for Volkswagen
“Opel orchestrated a pretend week-long training of pigeons by the best pigeon-trainers in Austria that was to culminate in a focused pigeon attack on VW Golf cars during the ‘sacred’ annual GTI Meeting in Carinthia—and they strategically placed evidence of this plan on the internet. With a great sense of humor, this campaign caused quite a commotion among social media users, especially among VW aficionados. The sophisticated target group segmentation and the group’s interactivity resulted in actually creating the expectation for a pigeon attack, even leading to precautions in the real world. And then—nothing happened. But precisely this ‘nothing’ shows the value of storytelling. Not only did it lead to a lot of media coverage and international recognition for the campaign, it also enhanced Opel’s image as a cool car brand.”
Opel, a German car manufacturer, used digital media—and the threat of pigeon poop—to invade the world’s largest event for its longtime rival, Volkswagen, where 170,000 fans gathered to celebrate their brand. How’d Opel do it? Virtually, by taking over mindshare. In the weeks before the event, Opel spread a rumor that it was training pigeons to relieve themselves only on Volkswagens at the convention. Fake “leaked” videos of pigeons being trained for this noble task were circulated online, and national media covered the scare. Event attendees believed the hype, and even showed up with homemade car covers and repellant sprays. But in reality, if any pigeon did happen to “go” on top of a Volkswagen, it was pure chance. The only birds Opel brought to the convention were white doves as a sign of peace.
Select Success Metrics
- 3.8 million people reached by Opel’s viral effort.