Photo shows a wraparound billboard at NYC port authority for VW's ID Buzz bus, with the lines 'It's back, its front, it's back again' above images of three VW buses in blue, yellow and green

VW launches new ID Buzz with simple yet sweet ads

Volkswagen is launching its new electric vehicle in North America with cheerful, copy-driven outdoor ads

Creative agency Johannes Leonardo looked back to the original VW bus when creating the launch campaign for Volkswagen’s long, fully electric vehicle, the ID Buzz. Due to come out in 2024, it marks the ‘rebirth’ of the VW bus in North America, which hasn’t been manufactured in 20 years.

The launch was teased in the week running up to the full reveal through digital OOH ads centring on the vehicle’s two-tone design, without showing the ID Buzz itself. Everything was then revealed in new OOH executions displayed in prominent locations such as Times Square in New York and downtown LA, as well as along popular bus routes.

Photo of a vertical VW ID Buzz poster in a busy city street, with the tagline 'Missed the bus? Us too' above a two-tone blue and white VW bus against a matching blue and white background
Photo of a vertical VW ID Buzz poster in a busy city street, with the tagline 'Hello sunshine' above a head-on image of the VW bus in white and yellow, with a matching white and yellow background
Photo of a vertical poster in a busy city street created for VW's ID Buzz campaign, showing the tagline 'A glass half full' above an image of a blue and white VW bus with a matching blue and white background

A sunny tone of voice forms the basis of the copy-centric ads, with simple yet sweet lines like ‘Missed the bus? Us too’, and ‘It’s back, its front, its side, its back again’, accompanied by relevant angles of the vehicle. The campaign harks back to the knowingly quirky voice of VW’s classic ads, though here the wording is less overtly oddball and more about puns and punctuation.

“Our goal was to make the campaign as simple and iconic as the original bus,” said Jonathan Santana, executive creative director at Johannes Leonardo. “Centred on its classic two-tone paint job accompanied with smart witty headlines in true VW style, we reacquaint America to this original spirit, now gone electric.” The agency has worked with VW since the brand’s initial ID Buzz announcement in 2019, which directly referenced the car manufacturer’s 2015 emissions scandal.

Motion was introduced to the campaign by creative studio Preymaker. “As soon as the agency shared the idea we couldn’t help but remember the classic VW Think Small campaign from the late 1950s and how much this new ID Buzz campaign had that iconic sense of design and messaging which everyone loved,” says Preymaker creative Robert Petrie, who added that there was “a simplicity to the design that felt so refreshing and optimistic”.

Agency: Johannes Leonardo
ECD: Jonathan Santana
ACDs: Mikayla Lapierre, Julian Cohen
Creatives: Stephen McDaniel, Katie Quinn
Design Director: Charles Watlington
Production and Post Production: Preymaker