Brand Experience and Activation > Brand Experience & Activation: Sectors


TWENTY, Copenhagen / VOLKSWAGEN / 2021


Shortlisted Cannes Lions
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Why is this work relevant for Brand Experience & Activation?

Visit the Road is a long-term brand initiative enhancing the value of the VW camper van by removing barriers to fully enjoying it.

Currently, those wishing to spend the night outside official camping sites risk a hefty fine. This creates dissonance between the freedom we expect from a VW camper, and the reality. By resolving this pain-point, we've enabled the VW camper community to experience the product as it was intended, in turn elevating the experience of the brand itself and the value it can bring to people's lives.


In the ‘60s, the iconic VW camper van popularised the Road Trip – no destination, only adventure on the horizon. How could its modern, younger brother; Volkswagen California, revitalise the brand as a symbol for freedom and own up to its legacy?

We knew giving a whole new generation their first taste of VW California and capturing the imagination of those who remember the original was going to take more than an ad. To make it the ultimate travel experience we needed to place it in contemporary culture – one that has, paradoxically, made travelling freely significantly harder.

Denmark, like most European countries, has introduced fines preventing people from spending the night outside official camping sites. By once again allowing people to experience the car as it was intended, we enabled a cultural phenomenon to transcend generations, and in turn, placed Volkswagen firmly in the hearts and minds of consumers.

Describe the creative idea

We partnered with landowners all over the country to open California Stays – overnight spots in remote and breathtaking locations, bookable for free on the website and on AirBnB.

Initiating a large-scale, cross-channel digital campaign, we leveraged key travel moments and audience search habits to create buzz around a new way of travelling, one that went beyond travel as a means to get from A to B. Unique locations otherwise inaccessible due to private roads and legislation were now available to anyone with a VW camper, owned or rented.

Alongside, we built a crowdsourced digital map inspiring travellers to discover new, authentic experiences - everything from secret mushroom picking spots to wild swimming and the perfect surf, compiled by those who know the road the best – the camper van community.

By revitalising the iconic road trip, we – once again made VW synonymous with freedom.

Describe the strategy

According to category conventions car advertising equals beautiful mountain roads and roaring engines. But the true magic of VW California is not its features, but the perspective it gives you on the world.

We set out to position VW California not as a vehicle, but as a holiday mode – superior to any hotel room, with guaranteed 360 views, breakfast in bed and no check-out. Our job became to convince people that the road was the ultimate holiday destination, and VW California the ideal way to experience it.

We used community research to pinpoint the barriers and built our creative approach on the symbol with the strongest social currency – unique experiences no one else had access to. With this springboard into wider cultural discourse, leveraging the rise of staycation propelled by recent global events, we created a shareable branded experience that would be remembered, and requested, beyond the campaign.

Describe the execution

Together with landowners we built four overnight spots – each Stay with its own unique features – bookable for free through a digital booking system. Whether star gazing in a romantic magical forest or waking up to waves crashing against dramatic cliffs tickled your fancy, Volkswagen enabled it.

Announced exclusively to a closed Facebook community of California owners and newsletter subscribers, we allowed the most loyal fans first priority, before opening to the public, supported by a cross-channel digital campaign. The result was a storm of new customers intrigued by what they’d seen and requests for California Stays to return.

Then, collecting the knowledge of the passionate community we created a crowdsourced map with hidden gems along the road, sharing the wisdom of the crowd in a social media campaign that enabled even more people to discover what the road had to offer, and the opportunities a VW California brings.

List the results

Within 48h of launching, all Stays were fully booked. The campaign generated over 30,000 price list downloads, almost 600% increase in traffic to the website and over 5 million social media impressions. In a year where google search for 'staycation' increased by 500% (*Statista) and the camper van category grew by 42% in Denmark, VW California had their biggest year of sales ever, beating the market with a whooping 84% increase and more orders than the factory could fulfil. Requests for California Stays and VW California had spread all the way from social media down to the dealerships.

The campaign made headlines in all major Danish news publications, generating 1544% return on investment in earned media. The overwhelming response prompted an extension with a whole month – which again became fully booked in only two days. Then came the ultimate seal of approval; California Stays is returning again this year.

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