“We believe that the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better is by making it fun to do. We call it The Fun Theory.”
This statement is the impetus for a clever viral marketing campaign from Volkswagen launched last week that has already yielded more than 3 million impressions online. The lead video, promoted via TheFunTheory.com and posted on YouTube, asks the question: “Can we get more people to choose the stairs by making it fun to do?” In the video, shown below, workers transform a subway staircase into a piano that plays musical notes when you walk on them. The result: 66% more people than normal chose the stairs over the escalator. Other examples include “The World’s Deepest Bin” and the “Bottle Bank Arcade Machine.”
Kudos to VW for a job well done. The only element that’s still not altogether clear, however, is how the campaign ultimately ties back to Volkswagen. Sure the VW logo is subtly on the campaign website and at the end of each video, generating millions of impressions. But what’s the message – that VW cars are fun to drive? What’s the behavior they’re trying to change – stop driving your clunker and trade it in for a VW? Upon some further digging, it turns out that VW is rolling out new Diesel-based cars, which they are positioning as more environmentally-friendly. Hence, the recycling, walking, and trash disposal themes of the videos.
For the average consumer, this campaign falls a little short. The behavior change that would have the biggest impact on the environment could be reducing our reliance on cars in favor of walking, biking, and public transportation. Now if only there was a way to make that fun.