Cannes Lions

VW California Ocean: A House of the Mobile Generation

PHD, London / VOLKSWAGEN / 2022

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The Volkswagen California Ocean is the dream camper van for people who love the outdoors.

Spacious and comfortable, it contains everything you need to camp in style, including a sink, fridge, stove, cupboards, flip-up table, and electric roof.

However, with a similar build structure to Volkswagen’s standard T-series, most people thought it was expensive compared to a normal van that can be modified for camping.

So, to convince our target of upper-middle-class male drivers, 35+, to consider the California Ocean, we needed to show them the benefits.


To do this, we would park the van in Taiwan’s affluent Xinyi District, then place ads in real estate listings inviting people to visit the ‘property’ on an ‘open house day’.

In our listings, we would use language commonly associated with houses, inviting people to view our ‘California Mansion’.

To support our ads, we would create a website showcasing the ‘property’, post a video tour on socials, and seed display ads on our targets’ favourite sites.

We would also work with social influencers to talk about our ‘mansion’ and push people to visit the open house or learn more online.

At the heart of our message, we would work with Yu Sheng – the ‘King of Adventures’, who left his home in 2020 to live in a van.

Posting about his ‘van life’ for 10 months during the pandemic, his Facebook audience amounts to 1.28M – mostly our target consumers.


Before our ‘open house day’, we programmatically placed our real estate ads on Taiwan’s biggest news and business sites, clicking through to our campaign site.

We also ran our video tour in targeted pre-roll on YouTube.

Then, when our ‘open day’ arrived, Yu Sheng greeted passers-by.

Acting as a real estate agent, he asked them to guess the van price – revealing it was cheaper than a micro-apartment… despite being the same size!

We captured shocked reactions, edited them into a video, and pushed them on VW social channels (YouTube, Facebook, Yahoo!).

We tagged social posts with #VanLife, tapping into the existing camper van conversations.

After launch day, we promoted everything through Yahoo! – Taiwan’s biggest content platform – with banner and native video ads.

Additionally, we targeted people who had expressed an interest in our competitors (Mercedes-Benzes, Lexus), and sponsored search ads for related car and real estate terms.


We sold a camper van like a house… driving sales up by 105% YOY!

In total, our online ads were seen 14.5M times (in a country of 23.57M).

Our social videos were viewed 2.38M times.

CTR from Facebook videos was the highest of any of VW’s 2021 campaigns.

Our real estate display ads were clicked 3,275 times.

And our campaign generated headlines – including 183 pieces of press coverage, worth nearly $1M in earned coverage.

This includes stories on Autos.Yahoo and Autos.UDN, two of the most popular car sites in Taiwan, with a combined reach of 50M.

Most importantly, this added exposure led to more test drives and sales.

In total, test drives increased by 3.8 times during the campaign.

And sales increased 105% YOY (155 in 2020 vs. 318 in 2021).

Now more people want to move into their own ‘California Mansion’!

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