The Oprah Winfrey Show's annual "Ultimate Favorite Things"
shows have become TV ratings catnip for advertisers, and Volkswagen
today, November 22, joined the parade of brands trying to get a boost from the talk-show diva.
The German automaker used part-two of the program to introduce its 2012 New Beetle vehicle by having Oprah driven on stage in one chauffeured by Santa Claus. In addition, all of Oprah's audience members were given keys to claim their own New Beetle when it is available next summer. The total cost of the program to VW
is estimated at about $7 million to $9 million.
It is ironic that VW chose the Oprah show to introduce the vehicle (only an outline was visible to audience members and TV viewers) because VW executives have said for the past year that it is hoping the new more chiseled design
would appeal more to men
. More than 70% of New Beetle buyers for the last decade were women.
The last New Beetle, which went out of production in 2009, had a much softer, more bulbous look that did not appeal to men very much. The roof-line of the new version is a closer homage to the original Beetle.
The New Beetle--a descendant of the iconic Beetle, which many consider the most significant vehicle of the 20th Century--is a very important model to Volkswagen
. The first New Beetle, which debuted in 1994 at The Detroit Auto Show
as "Concept One," and then went on sale to the public in 1999, saved Volkswagen of America from having to abandon the U.S. market for want of sales and customers.
The German automaker is amidst an aggressive growth plan in the U.S., and is counting on publicity around the latest iteration of the Beetle idea to help drive the lesser known models in the showroom.
The 2012 New Beetle will look very similar to the VW "Ragster" concept introduced at the 2005 Chicago Auto Show