Volkswagen is a power player when it comes to the vehicle industry – indeed, its Golf and Beetle have been crowned bestsellers. The German firm is also the owner of Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Seat and Skoda.
And it’s the latter that took marketing to new heights, quite literally, when it flew Real Business to Inverness for the launch of its new Skoda Superb line, which goes on sale in the UK in September.
Departure took place from the private Harrods terminal at Luton Airport and the scene was set when boarding the private jet to Scotland’s west coast, which came complete with a glass of champagne.
Upon arrival at Inverness Airport, a chauffeur was waiting beside a new Superb and proceeded to whisk us off to our destination – a place he said no more about beyond calling it “Skodaville”.
Of course, that titbit was meaningless and could have simply been a nickname given to the hotel by the marketing team – except it came to light we weren’t staying in a hotel.
True to his word, we had indeed arrived at “Skodaville – A Superb Place To Be”.
You’d be well within your rights to think Skoda owned this particular plot of land, given that the estate was filled with the brand’s signage and cars. However, this spot of property development was just for one week only, solely for the launch of the Superb.
Although on private land and owned by a hotel, the street looked like a real world neighbourhood, with each home – or “lodge” as team Skoda referred to them as – even sporting a mailbox, all of which were fitted exclusively to set the mood.
Speaking to Real Business about how the concept came about, Skoda’s media relations manager Krystyna Kozlowska said the final result wasn’t what they had originally set out to do.
“It all fell into place when we came to see the venue. The Superb is the best car we ever made so the brief set was to create the best launch we could do,” she explained.
As such, a “no holds barred” brainstorm took place and resulted in destinations including Croatia, Southern Spain and Northern France being put on the table. Of course, Scotland’s west coast was the victor – a result of its sweeping roads and picturesque Highlands.
Kozlowska continued: “We looked at a number of venues and we were looking for more of a traditional hotel to start with. When we came up to have a look around, we turned up at Skodaville – or Achnagairn House.
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“We looked in the main building and thought it was very nice and the main room itself, the reception area, had such a feel of Skoda about it – unconventional with a twist. But the rooms upstairs were a little bit olde worlde and not quite so in keeping with the brand and the car.”
However, a visit to the lodges, which were originally intended for Skoda support staff during the campaign, suddenly brought about another idea.
“We thought ‘could we turn this on its head and create Superb Street?’ ‘What would it be like if Superb was an actual place?’ And that’s where the whole idea stemmed from, almost by accident.”
The name Skodaville was originally joked about, given the initial plan for the team to use the lodges, and from there it stuck. Kozlowska applauded her colleagues on the creative and event planning side of things, admitting it was a collective effort of bouncing ideas around that saw everyone buy into the concept.
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While Inverness was new territory for Real Business, we couldn’t shake the feeling that there was a air of familiarity to the accommodation.
Kozlowska confessed there was a certain film that inspired the site.
“The Stepford Wives would be the one,” she revealed. “Everything there was perfect and beautiful, very well-defined. Life was perfect and that’s really the inspiration behind Skodaville – in a perfect world, every house would have two Superbs or Skodas on the driveway. We had mailboxes created with house names, so again just taking little references from pop culture icons. We lit the house very beautifully too – otherwise it’s very dark around the west coast of Scotland.
“It is still a hotel essentially, but we wanted to bring it into real life a little bit. Using the main house as a clubhouse and, although you can’t programme your robot wife there, you can still go there, get waited on in a beautiful lounge and relax.”
The planning started in January and the launch was set to take place in September, giving the team nine months to get up and running. After a March visit to Inverness and being told the factory had pulled production forward, the team sought a date to make sure they could capitalise on the momentum of having the cars ready in July, two months ahead of the intended release.
Discussing where the Superb launch sits against the creativity of other campaigns, Kozlowska noted that each car is viewed as an individual.
“We would never say it’s a Skoda launch, therefore we should do this in a certain location. All models are aimed at a different segment,” she said. “We did the Fabia launch in January, which was down in Brighton because it’s aimed at a much younger audience – it’s young, fun and needs a bit more city driving to it, and Brighton fully envisaged that.”
In terms of the Superb, it was important to do the car justice and make it the star of the show. As such, even two earlier versions of the Superb could be found stationed at Skodaville, with Kozlowska explaining the idea was that you physically had to walk past the old models to enter the future with the new 2015 release.
Elaborating on the audience for the Superb, she said: “This is probably the most fleet-based car we’ve had so it’s very much aimed at a lot of business buyers, but we’re acutely aware we still have a massive share in the retail segment with this car as well.
“It was described to me by our CEO that Skoda is a diplomatic car – it’s as good for the driver as it is for the front seat passenger as it is the people in the back. We don’t put a bias on one of those people, there is no compromise for you in the car.”
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