Friday | 02 Apr 2021

25 Stories: The Volkswagen Marketing Machine

During Volkswagen’s reign in the WRC from 2013 to 2016, it wasn’t just on the stages that it made an impression, it was also its unique approach to marketing, producing outside-the-box (and sometimes on the box) concepts not seen before in the World Rally Car era.

When Volkswagen made its full debut in the manufacturers’ championship in 2013, the results on the stages came fast, with Sébastien Ogier earning the German manufacturer its maiden stage victory on the very first test of the season, the 37.10km run from Le Moulinon to Antraigues on Rallye Monte-Carlo.

The weekend would not end in victory, but Volkswagen had announced its arrival and by season’s end it would be celebrating the first of four consecutive championships, while Ogier ended his fellow countryman Sébastien Loeb’s grip on the drivers’ championship.

1997: The tides of change

1997: The tides of change

In 1997 an all-new generation of car was introduced to the WRC - the World Rally Car. But what happened prior to that season to ...

Read more

In the meantime, Volkswagen’s marketing team was building equally enviable success off the stages, launching its Rally the World campaign. In a nutshell, was the landing page for its rally team. But it was so much more than that. It was the hub for Volkswagen’s unlimited creativity, that went from cooking steaks under the bonnet of the Polo R WRC, to using the car to power a sewing machine to stitch the driver uniforms.

Of course, there were also the faces that Volkswagen brought to the WRC. There was the time that Ogier took on World Cup-winning German footballer Thomas Müller in a penalty shootout. The twist? Ogier used the rear end of his car to slam the ball past the goalkeeper. Müller was not the only footballer to jump in for a ride, there was also Brazil’s Neymar Jr. From the world of tennis came Caroline Wozniacki and from the world of acting, Idris Elba.

There was seemingly no star too big or creative concept too absurd to pose a challenge to the Volkswagen marketing machine. Below, are just a selection of some of’s favourite creative campaigns from Volkswagen, as well as some of the biggest names that came onboard for a ride:

The German Donut

Meat you in Argentina

Il Cubo

The Outfit

Thomas Müller vs Sébastien Ogier

Neymar Jr. comes for a co-drive

This article is part of a an ongoing series of 25 stories that look back at the 25 years of the World Rally Car era, that will be published every Friday throughout 2021 on non-rally weeks.

25 Stories from the World Rally Car era