Volkswagen offers adventure in Touareg campaign

MOAB, UT: Volkswagen of America has launched the Touareg Adventure, a three-day off road driving course in Moab, UT, to hype the release of its Touareg 2 SUV later this month.

MOAB, UT: Volkswagen of America has launched the Touareg Adventure, a three-day off road driving course in Moab, UT, to hype the release of its Touareg 2 SUV later this month.

Consumers can sign up at Touaregadventure.com. The price per person is $2,000, which gets them an advance welcome kit, resort lodging (single occupancy), and meals.

Steve Keyes, Volkswagen brand communications director, said Volkswagen will target current owners and prospects through a variety of promotions including dealership-run initiatives. "The first couple of sessions are sold out," Keyes said, in a phone interview from Moab.  "It will run through the end of October at which time we'll evaluate it. If we're happy with the results we will extend it into year two, which is our inclination at this point anyway."

Keyes said most SUV buyers rarely use the off-road capabilities built in to the vehicles, so differentiating one feature from another can be a challenge. The Auburn Hills, MI-based automaker plans to use the tour to help consumers make the distinction between Touareg and its competitors by showcasing its off-road capabilities and technologies.

"When people are driving SUVs to and from work and the supermarket there's not a lot to differentiate," Keyes said. "So we felt the best way to leverage our capabilities was to offer this experience."

To help promote Touareg Adventure and the new SUV, Volkswagen will also be using consumer generated media created on site. Participants will be able to blog and post photos of their experiences from the Touareg Room at the housing lodge. "We've learned a big part of the success of these types of programs is word-of-mouth," Keyes said.

Before letting consumers take part, Volkswagen invited the media out to Moab for the program's initial run. Keyes said 15 media representatives made the trip.

"There were some lifestyle media, but it was primarily web-based and weekly automotive magazines," Keyes said. "We're trying to focus on the web-based and weekly publications because they can get the story out quicker."

Among those taking part were VWvortex.com, Edmunds.com, Autoafficianado.com and other "general automotive Web sites," Keyes said.

Consumer participants receive a two-and-a-half-hour orientation on off-roading technique the first day, and spend the following two days behind the wheel. Keyes said unlike other off-road courses, Volkswagen wanted participants to operate the SUVs themselves.

"Some programs last one day, they put you on a dirt road and give the participant very little actual drive time," Keyes said. "Here, you're driving the whole time. There's an instructor in every car, but they're in the passenger seat. And by the end of the first day they will have gone through some of the more challenging areas of Moab... [giving] them a sense of accomplishment."

MWW is working with Volkswagen on the program.

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