Cannes Lions

Sans Emission

TOUCHE!, Montreal / VOLKSWAGEN / 2024

Awards:

1 Silver Cannes Lions
2 Shortlisted Cannes Lions
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Overview

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Credits

Overview

Background

With more automotive brands advertising their respective electric vehicles in Quebec (Canada’s largest EV market by volume), standing apart from the increasing category noise has become more difficult. Volkswagen is a smaller brand in Canada, without the marketing budgets to compete on share-of-voice alone.

Rather than focusing on a media plan that relied on being loud in common-place media channels, we set out to create our own unique media moment that would appeal to Quebec’s love of locally-produced television and homegrown stars.

The main objective of the campaign was to build awareness of Volkswagen’s first all-electric vehicle in Canada – the ID.4. Key performance indicators were familiarity, consideration, purchase intent, and sales.

Idea

In Quebec, many TV networks stop broadcasting during the late hours of the night. One of these networks, popular entertainment channel NOOVO, has never broadcasted anything between the hours of 2 AM and 6 AM in its history.

Locals in Quebec call this off-air time “Sans Émission”, which translates to “No broadcast signal”. But “Sans Émission” also has a second meaning: “No gas emissions”, in reference to electric vehicles.

Playing with the double meaning of “Sans Émission”, we partnered with Noovo to turn their unused airtime into a first of its kind media stunt: a 4-hour long comedy special starring comedian Pier-Luc Funk and a charging Volkswagen EV.

Strategy

We exploited channel Noovo’s unused 2 AM to 6 AM time slot on September 16th to create a new media space. The resulting 4-hour long broadcast was equal parts entertainment for a late-night TV audience and information for EV intenders. It was also Canada's first 4-hour long commercial/TV show.

To ensure maximum viewership, a comprehensive media plan was executed before and after the show's airing. Our media plan and campaign messaging focused on comedian Pier-Luc Funk – making it look like a major Quebec celebrity was launching his latest TV show. Campaign assets counted down to the premiere date and highlighted the unusual overnight time block to build excitement and FOMO (fear of missing out).

After the premiere, it was cut into bite-sized streaming episodes for those who missed the initial broadcast. Viewers could click out directly to Volkswagen’s website to learn more about the ID.4.

Execution

Every year, at the start of the fall TV season, television networks launch marketing campaigns to promote the shows they believe will become the biggest hits. Quebec audiences look for these campaigns to discover hot new shows.

Quebec networks all follow a similar launch playbook for these campaigns. We launched Volkswagen’s Sans Émission the exact same way. This included:

- Billboards counting down to our premiere on September 16th. These were strategically placed in Montreal’s arts and entertainment district near other billboards promoting TV shows.

-15-second TV promos aired in rotation with other commercials promoting new shows.

- A listing for Sans Émission in the TV guide (TV and online).

- Social media teaser posts from Noovo, Volkswagen, Pier-Luc Funk, and entertainment pundits.

- A radio show PR tour for Pier-Luc to promote Sans Émission.

Afterwards, the show was cut into smaller episodes and made available for streaming on Noovo.ca.

Outcome

The overnight broadcast saw over 63,000 people* tune in between 2 and 6 AM. Based on total viewers, this put Sans Émission in the top 6 most-watched live shows on Noovo. It also generated over 2,000,000 earned media impressions in local Quebec media.

This exposure translated into significant increases across Volkswagen’s marketing funnel:

- +15% awareness of Volkswagen as an EV brand†

- +40% familiarity of the all-electric ID.4†

- +54% consideration (94% would now consider buying an ID.4)†

- +100% purchase intent†

The campaign delivered strong business results:

- +64% in ID.4 web-order-form engagements following the live broadcast˚

- +49% growth in Volkswagen’s share of the Quebec EV market△

Sources:

*Noovo viewership data

†Kantar data

˚Adobe Analytics web metrics

△DesRosiers industry sales data

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