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Yo! Volkswagen pushes vans with sushi and a dragon on the side

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is looking to boost customer engagement with its vans and position itself as a partner of UK business in a joint tie-up with The Times that will see the pair offer companies the chance to win a month’s worth of mentoring from Yo! Sushi founder and former Dragon’s Den investor Simon Woodroffe.

The move follows VW’s shift in strategy last year aimed at making the marketing for its trucks and vans more engaging. It launched a campaign, dubbed internally as “Working with You”, that centred on the real-life stories of its customers.

VW’s marketing communications manager Nicola Burnside says the tie-up with The Times supports the message that the van marque wants to work “in partnership” with its customers’ businesses, rather than just selling them vehicles. It hopes that by proving its worth beyond just selling vans and trucks it can boost customer trust and loyalty.

“Last summer we took a step change in our marketing strategy, recognising that we need to work in partnership with our customers’ businesses around the UK.

“This new campaign supports the message that we are more than just a van provider. We endeavour to work closely with our customers so we can understand their needs and supply them with a service that in turn will retain their trust and loyalty,” she adds.

The initiative launches today in The Times with a four-page co-branded supplement in the newspaper and an online ‘hub’ containing content from The Times’ editorial team.

VW will also promote the scheme across digital and social media channels, calling for companies to apply to be part of the scheme.

Businesses wanting to be considered for the initiative need to visit Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ website and give an overview of their current business challenges, the steps that they are already taking to overcome them and a compelling reason why Woodroffe should work with them.

Initial applications, which need to be made by Thursday, March 13, can either be submitted as a 300 word entry or as a two minute video.

A selection event will then take place later in the year at which 10 companies will pitch to Woodroffe and a panel of senior management from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and The Times, before five winners are chosen.

Each business will then enjoy a month’s worth of free mentoring by Woodroffe to help inspire, motivate and advise them through their specific business challenge.

Simon Woodroffe said: ‘Business is about people, and I'm looking for individuals with drive and passion.  The people I want to work with are ambitious, have vision, and want to make real change.  There's nothing like a bit of encouragement and that's what we hope to give.’

Videos of the event will appear online, while the winning companies will get a double page spread in The Times and there will be monthly round-ups both in the paper and online.

At the end of the eight-month long campaign, The Times will host an audience with Woodroffe which will again be covered by the newspaper both online and in print.

Burnside says the partnership with The Times has allowed it access to “well-recognised” business talent such as Woodroffe, as well as providing content that it hopes will be of value and interest to its customers.

VW is hoping for a “truly engaged” response from businesses across the UK and will be looking to amplify The Times’ activity wherever possible across social media and digital channels.

“There’s a genuine need to bring so much more to the table. We have come to understand that what our customers want is a business partnership, providing solutions and services which add real value,” she adds.

(Source: Marketing Week)


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