SO, did you guess right? The skeleton frame of a ute ploughing through the Outback with the advertising teaser inviting you to Guess the Naked Ute.
As far as ad campaigns go it certainly piqued our interest. VW said in the first week of the Naked Ute campaign it received more than 1.7 million views on Facebook and more than 800,000 on YouTube.
As we now know, it was the VW Amarok stripped to its bones in the commercials doing its down and dirty stuff. But why? Well, VW is a relatively new player on the ute market with its Amarok (it arrived here in 2010) and is still trying to convince ute buyers it can mix it with the more established players, and it's often just preconception preventing shoppers from considering a VW-badged ute.
If we look at sales figures for 2015, the Amarok had a 5.7% share of the 4x4 ute market and 2.3% of the 4x2 market. That places it behind the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton, Holden Colorado, Nissan Navara, Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50.
So, VW stripped an Amarok of its exterior body panels and its non-essential cabin pieces, meaning no seat cushioning, carpets, sound deadening, door panels or trim, and certainly none of that modern nonsense like infotainment and climate control. The alloys were binned too.
The result was something actually very sexy. Like a ute extra from Mad Max: Fury Road, with its bare metal structure on show and old-school round headlights giving a purposeful and menacing style. You want tough? Take the modern skin off your ute. In fact, with the Amarok bodywork back in place it actually looks soft by comparison. Australian Design Rules mean it's kind of necessary though.
The Amarok de-skinned, the ad's tag line was "Tough comes from within," followed by gratuitous (and impressive) footage of the Naked Ute tackling bush tracks with a smidge of dirt drifting thrown in, complete with the raw unsmothered engine noise which helped it sound more like a Finke Desert Race dueller than a commercial ute.
Giving the campaign credibility, VW plucked four working ute owners from rural Australia to take a "blind" road test in the Naked Ute. Let's not pretend there was no clever editing involved, but it's certainly a fun bit of viewing on YouTube as Troy (HiLux owner), Damien (Navara owner), Dean (Colorado driver) and Shane (D-Max driver) explore the naked Amarok's talents with a good dose of rural Australian vernacular thrown in. The testers certainly appeared impressed, and they'd have no reason not to: our Amarok tests have revealed the VW ute to be a worthy player in a quality field.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles marketing manager Ralph Beckmann commented, "We wanted to really challenge some of the myths and misconceptions around Amarok and develop a disruptive campaign to bring this to life. We believed many couldn't see beyond the Volkswagen badge and the good looking exterior. So we decided to take it away and the response has been phenomenal."
Credit to VW, this was an impressive campaign that has certainly raised awareness about the Amarok, and at the very least should have convinced ute buyers to consider the VW even those fiercely brand loyal - many are in the ute segment.
Only thing is, can they offer an Amarok Naked Ute special edition? It looks so good without all those modern niceties that we can't help but want one.
2015 4x4 Ute Sales Figures
1. Toyota HiLux 25,939
2. Ford Ranger 23,436
3. Mitsubishi Triton 20,795
4. Holden Colorado 15,963
5. Nissan Navara 12,272
6. Isuzu D-Max 11,301
7. Mazda BT-50 8680
8. Volkswagen Amarok 7630
9. Toyota LandCruiser 6544
10. Others (6 models) 1443