VW's Punch Bug: From Super Bowl game ad to Facebook ad game


When it comes to the storied game of Punch Buggy I'm a bit of a traditionalist. To be a legal punch, for me, it's got to be a Volkswagen Beetle (either classic or new styles) or a classic VW bus. So I was a bit upset when I saw last night's new Volkswagen's Super Bowl ad feature all sorts of people punching whoever was nearby when they saw any Volkswagen drive by, not just the traditional "buggies."

Well, my Punch Buggy traditionalism took another hit today when I noticed a Facebook ad for the new VW Punch Bug Facebook game. Yes, now you don't even have to see a real car or even be standing near your target to play Punch Bug (Where's the trailing "gy," VW?) -- just send a virtual punch through Facebook any time you want.

You can customize your punch by choosing any of 13 Volkswagon models (if you choose anything but the Beetle we can't be friends anymore), any of 13 ridiculously named punches (including "The Smacktastic" and "The Punch Bowl") and 18 different sound effects (each sillier than the last, if ranked on a scale of increasing silliness). Then choose up to 13 Facebook friends you don't mind annoying and punch away.

OK, it's not really much of a game. In fact, the whole thing is a thin excuse to try and get you and your friends to buy a Volkswagen -- it even prompts you to customize your own VW or request a brochure after each punch. But each punch also enters you in a weekly drawing for a 6-month VW lease, and punching with all 13 models gets you a chance at the grand prize of a VW CC, so it might not be a total waste of time. Plus, I think this is the first time a Facebook game has been inspired by a Super Bowl ad, making it a watershed moment in the history of new media marketing, if you're into that sort of thing.