VW's Helga Wins Cannes Lion

David Kiley

Miami ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky won the top cyber marketing award at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival for its online campaign for the Volkswagen GTI featuring blonde German siren “Helga” (pictured above) who goes for a test drive online with would-be customers after they configure the car they want.

The agency shared the award with Droga5, a new ad agency that produced a viral online film for a grafitti-based videogame featuring a tagger who spray paints Air Force One. The film proved so believable that news organizations reported the confusion and queried the White House about its authenticity.

The Helga effort tied into very funny TV ads featuring her and an effete German engineer, Wolfgang, who implored drivers of tuner cars to "Unpimp Your Auto" by buying a VW GTI, which is "pre-tuned" in Germany. The point of the campaign is to contrast the GTI with gawdy tuner cars created at after-market shops. The online test drive, which won Crispin the top award, is a slick piece of work not seen in the auto industry before. After choosing options for the GTI, Helga seductively goes for a test drive with you a la video and comments about each item you have chosen.

Crispin Porter took on the VW account last December after the automaker parted ways with long-time agency Arnold Worldwide. Much of what Crispin has created for VW has been the subject of debate and news coverage, which is what the agency likes to do.TV ads for the Jetta, featuring real-time crashes to highlight the car’s side-impact crash ratings, have been written up in print media and talked about on NBC's Today Show among others because of their shock value.

Volkswagen sales are up 23% through May. GTI sales are up to historic levels. Jetta sales are up 40%.

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