Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

From a 30-second ad to a 3-minute experience: How this brand stood out in an oversaturated car market! [Thursdays: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing]

May 11, 2023

Miles Everson’s Business Builder Daily speaks to the heart of what great marketers, business leaders, and other professionals need to succeed in advertising, communications, managing their investments, career strategy, and more. 

A Note from Miles Everson:

I love guerrilla marketing! 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it yet, guerrilla marketing is an unconventional marketing strategy. Campaigns of this type spark an emotional reaction that leads to lasting brand recall. 

I personally enjoy reading about these topics. They remind me that promoting or advertising a brand doesn’t always have to be too serious, traditional, or formal. 

Allow us to share with you an example of guerrilla marketing in today’s article. 

Read on to know how this automotive company captured Australians’ attention in 2021 with a highly engaging marketing stunt. 

Miles Everson
CEO, MBO Partners
Chairman of the Advisory Board, The I Institute

Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing 

In 2021, Volkswagen (VW) launched its new model of the Golf GTI car. The vehicle came with new aluminum subframes, stiffer suspension, and a Vehicle Dynamic Manager that centrally coordinates all running gear functions. 

These functions can adjust up to 200 times per second, giving the Golf GTI a responsive and balanced handling. 

As a tech-heavy hot hatch, the vehicle targeted mainly millennials and tech-savvy audiences. However, there’s a catch for VW’s market share in Australia… 

According to studies in the country, car brands are the second largest advertisers on Australian TV. The thing is, due to an oversaturation of car ads, many consumers have grown weary and less engaged with such endorsements. 

Oh no, how would VW’s Golf GTI penetrate the market AND stand out from the pack? 

Clearly, there’s a need for the car brand’s marketers to rethink how their marketing strategies get done. 

So, in July 2021, VW partnered with advertising agency DDB Sydney to make sure Australians saw the brand’s ads and kept the new Golf GTI model in mind. 

The campaign team’s solution? 

The “Ad Break Championship – GTI Hijack” campaign

Photo from caples.org

As part of a broader campaign with the slogan, “life feels better in a Volkswagen,” VW used the guerrilla marketing stunt to communicate to those wanting to escape their everyday routines that the Golf GTI is the ideal car to do it in. 

To prove this, the campaign team took on the most mundane things for many Australians such as: 

  • TV Ad Breaks

Photo from caples.org

The campaign team hijacked the first ad spot of Australian primetime shows’ first commercial breaks by creating an ad that viewers can actually play. 

Once the commercial break started, a QR code was flashed on TV screens. Those who scanned the code were directed to an in-browser Golf GTI racing game on their phones and had the opportunity to race against everyone else watching TV at that same time and day. 

The result?  

VW transformed what was initially a 30-second ad into a 3-minute fun experience with the brand! 

… and yes, during that entire ad break, viewers didn’t care about other commercials on their TV screens because they were busy racing against each other on their smartphones! 

AWESOME, right? 

  • Out-of-home (OOH) Posters

Photo from caples.org

Aside from hijacking the first ad breaks of primetime shows in Australian TV, the campaign team also put up OOH posters of the Ad Break Championship QR code on bus stops and other public places so commuters could interact with the marketing stunt too. 

Once scanned, the QR code directed commuters to a landing page where they could schedule their Golf GTI race depending on their availability after work. What’s more? 

Users were able to choose their virtual race tracks based on 3 track designs created by VW and DDB Sydney. 

  • In-browser Games

Photo from caples.org

VW’s in-browser racing game not only let Australians play but also enabled them to know more about the Golf GTI. 

By clicking on the virtual car model on their phones, they were able to explore the vehicle’s new features and even book a test drive for real! 

The entire campaign ran from July 19, 2021 to August 21, 2021. 

Was Volkswagen’s “Ad Break Championship – GTI Hijack” campaign effective? 

The campaign had a significant impact on the Golf GTI’s standing in the Australian market. Through the ad break hijacks, OOH posters, and in-browser games, VW was able to positively interact with its target audience. 

Below are the outcomes of the guerrilla marketing stunt: 

  • The “Ad Break Championship – GTI Hijack” campaign recorded over 70,000 in-browser game sessions, resulting in more than 5,000 hours of gameplay. 
  • Throughout the campaign, VW garnered a total of AUD 3 million in earned media. 
  • The campaign contributed to a 436% increase in dealer callbacks and a 97% increase in stock inquiries regarding the Golf GTI from July 2021 to August 2021. 
  • VW recorded a 725% increase in test drives during the campaign. 
  • Sales of the Golf GTI went up by 55% in Australia during VW’s campaign period. 
  • The “Ad Break Championship – GTI Hijack” campaign bagged the following awards and recognitions: 
  • 1 Gold Lion and 1 Bronze Lion at the Cannes Lions Awards 2022
    1 Graphite Pencil, 1 Wood Pencil, and 3 Shortlists at the D&AD Awards 2022
    1 Grand Prix, 1 Gold Spike, and 1 Silver Spike at the Spikes Asia Awards 2022
    6 Gold awards, 6 Silver awards, and 6 Bronze awards at the Advertising Council Australia’s AWARD 2022
    2 Gold awards and 1 Bronze award at The Caples Awards 2022
    1 Bronze award at The One Show 2022
    Contagious.com’s “Campaign of The Week” in August 2021

Clearly, these figures and recognitions show VW’s guerrilla marketing campaign for the Golf GTI was successful! 

Way to go, VW and DDB Sydney! 


The “Ad Break Championship – GTI Hijack” campaign was an entirely new way for people to engage with and experience a TV ad. By creating a live mobile racing experience, the brand activation allowed Australians to not just connect with VW but also with one another. 

What else? 

By buying the first spot in ad breaks, VW gave consumers a way to enhance their commercial break experience using their mobile phones… and because of that, the company captured a much more engaged audience. 

We hope you had fun reading today’s guerrilla marketing feature! 

Get inspired by VW’s clever and one-of-a-kind promotional tactic! 

Through a fun, inspiring, and entertaining approach that’s relevant to your business’ image, you can also win the race to your target market’s minds and hearts. 

(This article is from The Business Builder Daily, a newsletter by The I Institute in collaboration with MBO Partners.)

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Thursdays: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing”

Jay Conrad Levinson (1984) said that Guerrilla Marketing “works because it’s simple to appreciate, easy to execute, and inexpensive.”

Guerrilla Marketing is unconventional.

Looking beyond the traditional ways of advertising, marketers, and advertisers need to spice things up in order for their brand to have campaigns that not only make an impact but also stick to their target market’s mind.

Guerrilla Marketing usually aims to have direct contact with consumers.

This type of direct contact should spark an emotional reaction that leads to consumers effectively remembering the brand.

It’s about making a big impression and making that impression last a long time (if not forever).

Guerrilla Marketing can be inexpensive.

The effect of this is being able to create a buzz around the brand, and the strategy used to market it. Almost everything is passed around through word-of-mouth.

Word-of-mouth is one of the greatest outcomes and it usually doesn’t cost anything.

This is every business’ or brand’s dream!

Every Thursday, we publish tips, examples, and other useful content on unconventional ways of marketing and promotion.

Learn more about how to grab your target market’s attention and make an amazing first and lasting impression without having to spend a lot of money.

Businesses don’t really need to spend much for a guerrilla campaign. You do not need a big budget to be successful. You just need creativity and a good imagination.

Hope you’ve found this week’s guerrilla marketing insight interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next Thursday’s Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing!


Kyle Yu 
Head of Marketing 
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities 
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