Meet the (New) New Beetles

It’s said that music soothes the savage breast. Fair enough, I suppose, though I would add that, when it comes to regulating the fairly feral hearts of tired, travelling automotive journalists, caffeine is king, health be damned. (Of course, at night, we ask for the wine list.)

On both the morning and evening of the recent reveal of the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle, a couple of hundred members of the North American media got more music (and coffee, and wine) than they might have bargained for. The former was a slightly-too-loud-for-the-grizzled-crowd DJ set by Pete Wentz, the latter an ear- and eye-splitting MTV World Stage concert with Black Eyed Peas, which will air this Friday.

Considering that even the younger journos in the crowd graduated from university half a lifetime ago, VW’s emphasis on ultra-modern dance pop was risky, to say the least. Then again, VW was already taking a risk or three — what with having essentially decommed the triple semi-circle classic design of the Beetle after seven decades of service, in favour of a sportier, more “masculine” exterior design.

Do guys’ guys like the Black Eyed Peas? Not as much as they like girls. But if the attending media, happily herded to the elbow-roomy upper balcony, was, as mentioned, generally feral, safe to say that the real fans, 50-50 male-female and sardined on the floor below, were nothing short of rabid. That’s a good thing, by the way; in Facebook parlance, the guys and girls were all “Like,” all night.

What can we read into sonic associations that include Kayne West, Pink, Alicia Keys and Jay-Z at the morning event, and’s power-pop party patrol for the night-time bash? For North Americans, the Beetle has always been an urbanite’s vehicle. Per original designer Ferdinand Porsche’s vision, the price point has remained consistently reasonable — it is, after all, “the people’s car.” An amateur demographer would extrapolate that VW intends to chase young adults with the 21st Century Beetle (specifically, male adults, per VW’s admission). So, call the target age bracket 19-29 but possibly even as specific as 19-24. You know: “Rock That Body” types.

DJ Pete Wentz’s pre-reveal morning mix was 30min. long and the crowd — admittedly, the wrong crowd — was not dancing in the risers. But while the set consisted of nine songs, it wasn’t a consistent set, not exactly. Because the penultimate number was…Eric Clapton’s “Layla.” So, possibly, VW hopes to sell 12% of the 2012 Beetles to Scorcese fans? Regardless, if ever there was proof that music does soothe the savage breast, it was in that room, for those five minutes…

Leading up to the Beetle’s in-market release this September, VW’s marketing campaign proper will be the one to watch, and listen to. Sometimes songs are just songs, after all. And sometimes cars are just cars. Still, DailyXY is pretty sure VW’s up to something (rumour control: Microbus), so we will indeed be watching, and listening. And, yeah, hoping for a little more Slowhand to soften the “Boom Boom Pow.”

Image by Gary Butler; digital camera Olympus PEN E-PL2; see more at DailyXY’s Twitter feed.


5 thoughts on “Meet the (New) New Beetles”

  1. Fair enough analysis. But VW will do anything to sell this car, so the minute a demo “identifies itself” (= starts buying this model in droves), they will rebrand/retarget before you can blink. Anyhow, BEP + DJ + MTV might have just been some kind of party favour.

    Me, I like the new look, from what I’ve seen so far. Wouldn’t buy it, but wouldn’t be embarrassed to drive it.

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