Volkswagen aims to take over the ad break with the second screen in new Golf campaign

Volkswagen is taking the traditional TV ad break away from the main screen, with a new campaign that pits all viewers against each other with an online race.

The new campaign via DDB Group Sydney asks ‘Why watch ads when you can play them?’. It will launch tonight via a QR code during The Project on Ten, giving competitors the chance to win a Golf GTI by competing in the ‘Golf Ad Break Championship’.

The pair behind the campaign at DDB were creative partner duo Tommy Cehak and Tim Woolford, who spoke to Mumbrella about Volkswagen’s open-mindedness and willingness to embrace creativity with its ad spend, taking more risks in the name of creativity while working with a tighter budget than some competitors.

“I think whether it be passenger vehicles or commercial vehicles, of which we look after both, we’re always trying to do something that’s going to help us stand out … So an idea like this sort of sounds natural to that set of circumstances that we try to set up with the client, which is how do we do something to punch above our weight,” says Woolford.

Cehak said that the idea came about following the shared observation that Australian life is becoming a lot more predictable and a lot duller for many in the context of COVID.

“The planner came up with this observation that some ridiculous percentage of us feel that work gets in the way of spontaneity and variety in life, but this Golf range is this fun-to-drive vehicle that takes the boredom out of life. The team came up with the idea of it being this antidote to the everyday… and what’s the most everyday thing we all come across? That would be the ad break,” Cehak said.

“I think we’ve seen targeting with regards to the second screen for a number of years now, but I think in terms of interacting with what we’re seeing on our own screens we’ve really just sort of hit the tip of the iceberg.”

Cehak said that consumers can see the creativity Volkswagen is producing in their advertising.

Interface of the game

“It’s part of a broader platform, which is this idea that ‘life feels better in a Volkswagen’. This is definitely how we positioned the Golf, and you’ve seen us position the Tiguan as well.

DDB worked with fellow Omnicom agency, PHD, to book the first spot in ad breaks across Ten and Fox shows, where a custom ‘game launch’ TVC will feature a QR code that viewers can scan, taking players to the live racing game tournament.

Volkswagen Australia brand manager, Hayley Phillips also spoke about positioning the Golf as the ‘antidote to the everyday’.

“We’re always looking for ways to breakthrough in a cluttered market and do something that stands out. Bringing the new Golf to market is an important milestone for us, and the idea behind Golf Ad Break Championship provided us the perfect platform to launch the icon and get people involved and excited with us.”

Dixie Garcia, business director at PHD Sydney, who also worked on the campaign, said this offered the brand the opportunity to reframe the traditional ad break, “making it more of a lean-in moment rather than a passive one”.

“The challenge was to not just be guaranteed the first ad break position, but to also ensure the Golf Race lasts for the exact length of the ad break itself.”

With the intention to divert the viewers attention for the entirety of the ad break, which might cause issues with other brands that have bought spots, Garcia said the plan necessitated early communication with the networks.

“We briefed the networks on the concept very early on in the process to make sure the idea was feasible. They came back excited by the idea, we’re very lucky that our network partners are always interested in new and different ways to engage viewers. PHD and DDB worked very closely with both Ten and Foxtel on the messaging for the Golf Ad Break Championship. With multi-screening so prevalent during TV viewing, we’ve leveraged an existing behaviour by eventising the ad break.”

The game itself was built through a collaboration between DDB, DDB Group’s digital shop, Tribal, and game development studio Art of Play.

The concept for using gaming as an advertising platform builds on a report this week from InMobi, that found Australians has experienced a gaming boom during 2020 and beyond, with a significant increase in both numbers of users playing online, and overall usage.

The increased ‘need to relax and be entertained’ was cited as the most important factor in smartphone users turning to gaming, with smartphones also becoming the most popular platform – 85% of gamers stating they play on their smartphones.

The game is available for practise racing ahead of the first live event on three ‘Aussie-inspired tracks’, accessible via QR codes located at ‘typically boring places’ such as train station platforms and bus shelters across the country, or by visiting the website.

Following the first Championship race tonight, further rounds will be held on 26 July, 2 August, 9 August, 14 August, and 21 August, across Ten, Fox Sports, and Kayo.


Client: Volkswagen Group Australia
Rowena Kanna – Marketing Communications Manager
Hayley Phillips – Brand Communications Manager
Tully Challen – Digital Customer Acquisition and Retention Manager
Stephanie Overton – Digital & E-commerce Manager

Creative Agency: DDB Sydney
DDB Group’s Tribal
DDB Group’s Track
Game Development Studio: Art of Play
Ash Nicholls – Director
Billy Deakin – Lead developer
Josh Thomas – 3D Environment artist
Henry Bullen – 3D Vehicle and environment artist
Clark About – Music

Production Company: Scoundrel
Sound: Sonar Music
Photography Agency: The Kitchen
Photographer – Juli Balla
Media: PHD


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