Volkswagen South Africa’s big hit event series, Vivonation Festival will soon be past its third instalment. And the past two years, the marketing team behind it at Volkswagen say they’ve learned quite a lot, made some changes and generally ‘found our groove’ as they aim to cement this one of Mzansi’s most sought after experiential brand executions.
To top it off, Volkswagen South Africa reported a stellar 2019 when it comes to business operations and vehicle units delivered to customers. According to Siyanga Madikizela, Volkswagen South Africa’s Public Relations and Media Manager, the Polo Vivo attributed quite a lot to this success. So much so, we had to to talk to her about what the brand is doing in preparation for the Vivonation Festival and what festival goers can expect this year.
Read on for an unvarnished look at the Vivonation Festival process, from one of their own. Cheers!
Chatting with Siyanga
Papi Mabele: Just for starters, looking at the event itself, can you tell us how the concept came about?
Siyanga Madikizela: Firstly, the Polo Vivo is South Africa’s bestselling passenger car and it accounts for almost a third of Volkswagen South Africa’s sales. So, the reason why we started the Vivonation Festival is to basically thank our loyal customers who continue to make this vehicle a sales success year after year. That’s really the reason for it. No other car, besides the likes of the Toyota Hilux (which is in another class) enjoys this kind of sales success.
Zoning in on the Polo Vivo, it has been around for about a decade now – how has the overall reception of the vehicle been in South Africa?
When the production of the Citi Golf ended in 2009, people were very sad to see it go. But then when we introduced the Polo Vivo, consumers almost forgot about the Citi Golf. So it’s evident that it has been loved since launch, the Vivo has topped the passenger car market every single month. (There were of course those exceptions when it was replaced by the polo.) Which is amazing for Volkswagen South Africa because it’s the only locally manufactured vehicle in the A0 segment.
What would you say are the go-to features that South Africans love the most about the Polo Vivo?
From a Volkswagen point of view, for us is the fact that we are supporting the country’s GDP as the vehicle is fully manufactured here. In terms of customer, it has to be the German build quality; when a person buys a Volkswagen, they are sure of the quality. Then it would have to be affordability and value for money, safety, space and comfort. Those are the things that sets the Polo Vivo apart from anything that its competing with.
It makes perfect sense. And then, looking at sales of the Polo Vivo – and the VW brand as a whole – I feel like these last 12 months is the most successful in terms of the brand recognition VW has ever gotten. Would you agree?
2019 was one of the best sales and production years Volkswagen South Africa has ever had in a long time. We had record production of 162 000 vehicles – the highest number in eleven years. We had 20.4% passanger market share which is the highest in 23 years and then speaking of the Polo Vivo, it sold close to 30 000 units. So, 2019 was absolutely the year for us. Like, we haven’t had a year this good in a long time.
That’s amazing. And just to go back on the Vivonation Festival itself, looking back at previous instalments, what would you say has been some of the remarkable moments?
What’s been incredible for us is that when we put the even together for first time, we didn’t know what to expect and whether patrons would like it. The event is held at a container yard on the outskirts of Johannesburg central, so it was and always is amazing to witness how South Africans embrace this new event concept.
Personally, I love how the event team plays around with the space and make it Polo Vivo town. You get immersed in the brand and brand culture. On that remark, what can visitors to this year’s Vivonation Fest expect?
So what we do every year is launch a special edition of the Polo Vivo. Last year we launched the Sound Edition. This year’s edition is a surprise, so I cannot disclose it as yet but it is a proudly South African Polo Vivo special edition that will premier then. We also will be having experience zones within the festival itself; there’ll be a make-up hub, sneaker shop and barber shop for grooming on site. There’ll also be a Vivonation bula boot market and pop-up stages. We’ve created a truly unique experience for our guests.
Amazing. I love the experience zones that you come up with also. It extends the experience to so much more than just music.
Our attendance is quite a young audience, so we have to make the Vivonation experience as relevant as possible.
Wena ke, in three words, how would describe the Vivonation experience?
The first word is cool – because VW is cool – unique and trendy. That’s it.
Which artist are you most excited to see?
It definitely has to be DJ Maphorisa and Kabza de Small. It’ll be their first time at the festival.
The Volkswagen Vivonation Festival takes place on 4 and 5 April 2020 at the Container Yard in Johannesburg’s City Deep. See the full line-up and ticket details here.