Volkswagen sunk to new advertising depths for Shark Week, a beloved Discovery Channel yearly institution, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last week.
Volkswagen’s Great White advertising hope took the shape of an underwater drive-able VW Beetle, which revs around the ocean floor, chasing sharks, and getting some incredible footage in the process. Open Waters meets open-topped classic, if you will.
The Beetle is something of a cross between a shark cage (albeit not a particularly safe-looking one) and James Bond’s dream, made from tubular aluminum, with alloy wheels, propellers, and an inbuilt air system that allows the driver (diver?) to plug into before taking it for a spin, under the surf.
Engineered from the ground up, using blueprints for the actual VW Beetle, the Volkswagen team and marine biologist Luke Tipple said the car took approximately three weeks to build and is only about an inch off the above-water version.
The car was featured in a three-part short-form series aired during Shark Week, where viewers got a chance to check out the design process, the construction, and eventual submersion of the Beetle.
Beth, I'm sure you are correct in that it's a great piece of marketing. The VW folks have recently blitzed the United States with very effective marketing; i.e. Super Bowl--adolescent Darth Vader, etc. and several others. They seem to know what we love to see. The technology to put this under water and drive the "shark cage" is interesting also. Little practical use but interesting.
The Discovery channel ran the commerical during Shark week. The speed at which the vehicle moves on the ocean floor wouldn't provide much of an escape from the shark, not to mention the large openings. I agree Charles, not protection from a Great White!
I love Shark-Week, (BTW, did I miss it, or is it still to be aired-?) and I'm a long time diver. Oh, and my first car was a '68 beetle -- so LOTS of connections to love about this story. But after looking it over, I was a little disappointed. I'd chalk it up to a publicity stunt, or just pure advertising --- good advertising at that --- but far short of any real engineering feat. Especially in light of last week's stories about Mars Curiosity. But just for fun, it offers a fun perception. Wonder what the Sharks thought about it-?
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Cas Smith is a biological engineer at Terrapin Bright Green, a consulting firm that specializes in green and sustainable design. At the core of his work is to explore how biomimicry can inform sustainable design. He discussed biomimicry and its implications for design and solving some of the world’s sustainability issues in an interview with Design News.
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