Cannes Lions




1 Shortlisted Cannes Lions
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Volkswagen was one of the first car manufacturers to establish itself in Brazil, and it built up a long and happy marriage with Brazilians. However, over the decades, new brands entered the market – seducing Brazilians with new products and technologies.

Because Volkswagen didn't keep pace with all the new launches, it began to lose ground – and the old relationship between Brazilians and the brand started to lose its spark. In 2013 came news that would make the situation even worse: Volkswagen would soon be obliged by law to discontinue the Kombi (Volkswagen Bus) that it had produced since the 1950s, as the model did not meet new mandatory safety requirements.

In a market dominated by innovation, this was bad news for Volkswagen, and seemed to underline the brand's stagnation in Brazil.

However, for Volkswagen, there was a flip side to all this. After all the Kombi was more than just any old car. It was an icon; an old friend to Brazilians, evoking smiles, conversations and affectionate tales wherever it went. For Brazilians, the end of the Kombis news triggered fond memories of their relationship with the Volkswagen brand.

We realized that, instead of underscoring the stagnation of Volkswagen, the demise of the old Kombi could be used to help reignite Brazilians' passion for the brand. So instead of going for an inconspicuous goodbye, selling the last units of the Kombi through a hotsite, we decided to spread the word about the vehicle’s retirement through an unprecedented “Unlaunch” campaign.

In this campaign, the Kombi would do more than just saying goodbye: it would show its gratitude to Brazilians for the great amount of beautiful stories and smiles they shared together. Instead of highlighting Volkswagen’s lack of innovation, the “Unlaunch of the Kombi” would celebrate the friendship between the Volkswagen brand and Brazilians. Our goal was to truly win over the hearts of Brazilian customers and to restore a relationship that had been eroded by monotony.

The campaign made Volkswagen be perceived as being more friendly and closer to Brazilians, boosting brand empathy. In an industry seduced by a constant stream of innovation, the "Unlaunch" of the old Kombi ended up giving the brand something that even the most innovative launches couldn't: it put Volkswagen back on the map, rekindled Brazilians' love for the brand, and helped set Volkswagen apart from other car manufacturers.

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