ByÂ Theresa Howard, USA TODAYNEW YORK â€” Herbie the Love Bug rides again â€¦ sort of.
Volkswagen, which has a goal of tripling U.S. sales to about 1 million vehicles by 2018, is rolling out a classic Beetle as the brand's face and voice in a quirky TV, Web and print ad campaign that starts Monday in print and will be on TV starting Saturday. The campaign's star is "Max," a pristinely restored 1964 black Bug.
In the TV ads, Max speaks with a German accent (VW won't say who provides the voice) and plays a talk-show host. He conducts offbeat interviews with an eclectic batch of celebrities, including supermodel Heidi Klum,Â Star TrekÂ actor Leonard Nimoy, Napster founder Shawn Fanning and David Hasselhoff ofÂ BaywatchÂ fame. The first to air will feature basketball coach Bobby Knight and will appear during the Final Four of the NCAA men's basketball tournament on Saturday. Max provokes an outburst from Knight by poking fun at his recent retirement.
Other campaign details:
â€¢TV ads.Â Each celebrity is used to represent a particular trait of the brand. German supermodel Klum, for instance, tells Max that he's a feat of beautiful German engineering. Hasselhoff, a pop music star in Europe, talks with Max about being a European best seller.
"It's very easy to go out and hire supermodels and superstars and just have them say they represent your brand," Ellis says. "Every person we chose is unique and has a unique take on something we want to say about our cars."