VW's ‘RooBadge’ kangaroo accident campaign signals an automotive reinvention

VW's ‘RooBadge’ kangaroo accident campaign signals an automotive reinvention

So what is a RooBadge?

The RooBadge, which has been developed over three years in collaboration with the University of Melbourne and WIRES animal rescue organisation, is an integrated speaker built into the Volkswagen badge that emits a unique audio deterrent that warns nearby kangaroos of approaching vehicles.

The device uses GPS and kangaroo distribution data to emit a focused beam localised for the species of kangaroo in the area. This innovative solution aims to decrease the significant human and financial costs associated with vehicle collisions involving kangaroos.

Volkswagen’s market context

The automotive industry is witnessing a real fistfight as traditional players strive to reinvent themselves as fully fledged tech brands, facing stiff competition from modern challengers like Tesla, Polestar, BYD, and even tech giants such as Sony and Xiaomi.

Volkswagen, once the industry's global leader, arguably faces the toughest task of rebuilding its reputation post the 'Dieselgate' scandal, and the company has since pivoted towards EV technology in an attempt to right its wrongs - a transition they've managed commendably.

However, with an increasing number of players, particularly from China, entering the market, it's becoming increasingly difficult for the ‘old guard’ to maintain its share of voice amidst potential EV fatigue in the media. The key question of course is how can they keep the conversation going when there's seemingly nothing new to say?

Enter the 'RooBadge', a smart device that uses cutting-edge technology to address a real-world problem, embodying all the key characteristics VW aims to be recognized for as they evolve into a tech company. 

What sets this campaign apart is the attention to detail.

While it could have been a novelty product for quick headlines, it's positioned as a well-developed piece of kit, created in collaboration with technologists, academics, and conservationists. In essence, it's a genuine piece of tech launched in true tech-brand fashion.

The only drawback is its limited editorial reach. It hasn't generated the column inches it deserves, nor has it broken out of the core motoring media. As we often note in the innovation space, reaching beyond a brand's heartland press is just as crucial as maintaining a presence within it.

However, this may well change as the campaign gains momentum but regardless, it succeeded in capturing my attention, and hopefully, it will be just as effective in alerting those poor kangaroos.

Brand: Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles
Agency: DDB Sydney

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