Wisdom > Spoiler

Volkswagen, Gary V. and my thoughts on brand ambassadors

Mr. Pure Energy is now the face of the German car brand in PH

Gary Valenciano wants you to give VW cars a try. PHOTO FROM VOLKSWAGEN

I can never understand the value of paid product endorsers, mainly because I am never starstruck and celebrities have no effect on me. I’m the type who will never be swayed to purchase an item just because a popular person I admire is cheerfully holding it while grinning from ear to ear on a larger-than-life billboard. I have always been a Michael Jordan fan and I’ve never bothered to wear his sneakers (okay, except for a pair I bought not because of His Airness but because of the substantial price cut).

Maybe it’s also because I am fully cognizant of the fact that brand ambassadors are well compensated for their effort. I mean, if you got offered a million bucks to lovingly caress a bottle of cologne you will never use, wouldn’t you do it? And especially in this time of nauseating social-media influencers, an advertisement showing a viral face feels even more contrived.

I gather these thoughts as I assess the wisdom of hiring an endorser for a car brand—specifically, of Volkswagen Philippines now partnering with the one and only Gary Valenciano in its latest “We Move You” marketing campaign. Now, before I proceed, can I just say that beer tastes remarkably better if you chug it while listening to Gary V.’s “What More Can I Say”? Try it and thank me later.

Anyway. I particularly struggle with the thought of having famous people sell cars. And that’s because…well, does it really work? Would car shoppers really be convinced to buy a motor vehicle just because their idol told them to? I get the point of asking, say, Sarah Geronimo to help peddle shampoo. The product is cheap and fans can always give it a try. What have they got to lose? If it turns out the thing isn’t good for their hair, they simply squander some change. The same cannot be said of cars. If customers blindly heed the advice of a celebrity endorser and the vehicle turns out to be a dud, they can’t just shrug their shoulders and charge their disappointment to experience. An automobile costs a fucking fortune—the average price is life savings for most of us—so it’s not something you impulsively entrust to your favorite actor, musician or athlete.

Volkswagen Philippines has decent offerings—it just needs Gary V. to draw more eyeballs to its product line

Having said all this, I see the logic in VW getting Gary V. to help promote its business. The German automaker isn’t expecting car buyers to suddenly go for its vehicles just because they saw the legendary Filipino entertainer drive the Lamando sedan in a sleek video. The company has decent offerings—it just needs him to draw more eyeballs to its product line (people are likelier to click on a commercial if they see a familiar personality).

And as familiar personalities go, no one is a better choice than Gary V. He’s universally loved, he’s very good at his craft, he’s scandal-free and he reminds you of some of the happier moments in your life (if you’re a tito, that is, in which case you probably have the means to acquire a brand-new car). He has exactly the kind of image any business organization would gladly associate its brand with.

The big bosses of Ayala Corporation’s automotive division dig their new VW endorser. PHOTO FROM VOLKSWAGEN

Gary V. has never been known to be a car nut. What he is known for is his honest professionalism. Something tells me he will not put his reputation on the line for a company or a brand he feels would screw Filipino consumers. At the end of the day, he’s merely asking you to give Volkswagen cars—the Santana, the Santana GTS, the Lavida, the Lamando, the Tiguan and the Crafter—a second look. That’s all. You don’t have to take his word for it. But at least go for a test drive. You might surprise yourself.

PS: If you’re a big Gary V. fan, Volkswagen is staging a free concert on February 22 at the Activity Center of the TriNoma mall in Quezon City.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist for 26 years. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.