IPA Effectiveness Awards 2004: Silver Award - Best Idea - Sponsored by Millward Brown


Campaign: Don't Forget It's A Diesel

Client: Volkswagen UK

Agencies: DDB London, DDB Matrix

Principal authors: Ben Malbon, DDB London; Sara Donoghugh, DDB Matrix

With contributions from: Les Binet, DDB Matrix; Sarah Carter, DDB

London; Richard Butterworth, DDB London

Media used: TV, interactive, direct marketing, viral, press, outdoor,

radio, ambient


This is the story of how making it OK to drive a diesel proved to be profitable for Volkswagen.

Diesels have long been seen as boring, dull, noisy, smelly and sluggish - the engines of choice for greens, teachers and sandal-wearing Guardian readers.

But since 2001, VW's campaign has helped radically change our perceptions.

Its diesel sales have increased dramatically in terms of both volume and value, the Golf has become the UK's best-selling diesel car and people are buying more powerful and more expensive Volks-wagen diesels than ever before.

Fronted by the high-powered Golf GTi, VW's Diesel marques were given a new sense of sexiness, style and desirability with communications that were intelligent and witty in tone and had the highest possible production values - a break from typically apologetic diesel ads.

In tune with an integrated effort that included everything from petrol nozzle ads to branded rubber stamps to dealers, VW showed its confidence in its diesel range by becoming the first car advertiser to go on TV with a brand-led diesel message. The tagline "Don't forget it's a diesel" has helped give diesel drivers a bit more pride.

The campaign saw diesel sales revenues grow by 60 per cent, and sales of high-powered diesels rise from 33 to 53 per cent of VW's diesel mix.

Furthermore, the authors argue, the communications led people to pay more for their diesels.

The judges' view

This was a good case with an outstanding idea and an extraordinary range of executions. The campaign helped to "make diesel sexy", elevated the Golf to its position as the UK's best-selling diesel and prompted a dramatic shift in Volkswagen UK's sales mix.


Become a member of Campaign

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk, plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events.

Become a member

What is Campaign AI?

Our new premium service offering bespoke monitoring reports for your company.

Find out more

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an alert now

Partner content