new polo 2 chanel no. 5

To celebrate the launch of the new VW Polo model, people are being asked to vote for their Top 50 timeless items in the categories of Food, TV, Design, Fashion and Music.

Each category is sponsored by a market leader in that area, for example, the music category can be accessed through Heart FM’s website.  By voting, the public have an opportunity to win prizes to encourage participation.  In the music section, Heart are offering voters a chance to win a 16GB iPod Classic, or in design, Living Etc are giving away a £500 shopping spree at Habitat to one lucky voter… for £499 you can even buy the store (although they’re not too sure about offering free delivery on it!).

The campaign, The Top Timeless 50, actively draws upon the trends of nostalgia and thrift (which we have been following for over two years and have blogged about many times previously… oh do keep up!).  The sensitivity of consumers to these trends is heightened in times of hardship and uncertainty and so VW is trying to sell the new Polo by drawing on these.  However, taking this further and claiming timelessness as the inspiration behind the design of the new Polo, is quite a claim.  By wanting to associate itself with the nation’s top 50 timeless items, VW have created a marketing proposition suggesting that the new Polo is so good it deserves to be up there among such classic stuff as the Little Black Dress, Fawlty Towers or Chanel No. 5: all of which have achieved both elusive quality and championing by the British consumer.

Is this going to work for VW?  Well, there is likely to be a Polo in the Design Museum in 20 years time, except it will be a mint rather than the Mark V.

In addition, there is always something slightly worrying about an ad campaign when it relies upon the aspirational rather than the mundane;  every ad we’ve seen for the new Polo has featured it in top-of-the-range SEL variant with added options – something unlikely to be accessible to the majority of purchasers.

Though this declaration of design intent could be respected for the sheer confident audacity it represents in the design field, it also suggests that the men in white coats at VW may have reached their peak, particularly since the recent revival of the Scirocco (a genuine automotive classic and not something that looks like a Golf that has been washed at 60‘c) shows that you can re-invent something that looks better than the original.  The mind boggles at the future creative output of the lovechild born out of the merger of the VW and Porsche design teams, especially given the “challenging” appearance of the new Panamera;  if they ever remake Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, guess what the Child Catcher will be driving?

If the new Polo is a runaway success then VW’s claim to timelessness will have paid off.  If not, then no doubt it will join that other Top 50… of timeless catastrophes, joining the ranks of Big Brother, Jodie Marsh or Black Lace.