Log In Start studying!

Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|
Fun Theory

What if you could change people's behavior for the better by doing something fun? It doesn't sound plausible, right? Yet, that's what Volkswagen achieved by creating something they called the fun theory.

Goal of the Fun Theory

In the early 2000s, Volkswagen saw great potential in green innovation and founded BlueMotion to create technologies that would improve fuel efficiency and electric cars. However, at that time, the efficiency and autonomy of those early models were not excellent, and people were reluctant to buy energy-efficient and electric vehicles.

That's why Volkswagen started an ambitious project to create a marketing campaign that would promote Volkswagen BlueMotion technologies. Instead of launching a traditional car marketing campaign to promote the performance of the vehicles, they decided to test a theory. Their idea was to change people's behavior by making an activity more fun to do. They wanted to advertise that people could continue driving and positively impact the environment by reducing their gas emissions without compromising the joy and pleasure of driving.

Volkswagen Fun Theory Campaign

The Volkswagen Fun Theory campaign was designed in partnership with Nord DDB STO. It launched in 2009 as a series of three short videos that were live experiments of this theory in action to positively change people's behavior by doing something fun. Those videos quickly became viral and were spread all over the Internet, giving Volkswagen unexpected popularity.1

Volkswagen Fun Theory Piano Stairs

For their first experiment, they tried to motivate people to take the stairs instead of the escalator in a metro station. To achieve this, Volkswagen's team installed censoring stairs in the shape and form of piano keys next to an escalator. Then, whenever people were walking on the stairs, it made the exact sound of the piano. Soon many people were having fun walking the stairs, and the experience was quite successful, as 66% more people were using the stairs instead of the escalators.2

By implementing a creative marketing strategy and gamifying walking on stairs, Volkswagen managed to change people's behavior while promoting its brand and creativity.

Fun Theory Volkswagen Piano Stairs StudySmarterFig 1 - Piano

Volkswagen Fun Theory Talking Bin

For their second experience, Volkswagen tried getting more people to throw rubbish in bins. They devised a creative idea to achieve that goal by installing a sensor and a speaker in a bin. As a result, whenever people threw something in the trash, a loud falling and crashing cartooning sound came from it. Quickly, people gathered around the bin to determine where the sound came from; they even collected rubbish on the ground around the bin to hear the sound again. Thanks to that engaging trash can, they collected 72 kg of trash in one day, 41 kg more than the standard bin close by.3

With this campaign, Volkswagen was able to connect some principles of sustainable marketing to its brand by motivating people to discard their waste correctly. Simply by creating a fun sound, they have encouraged people to use that bin and even collect trash lying around to hear that sound again.

Volkswagen Fun Theory Bottle Bank

In this campaign, Volkswagen's goal was to get people to recycle more. Volkswagen created an arcade bottle bank machine with flashing lights, music, and a scoreboard to do so. The device was like an arcade game: people had to press start, then put bottles in the machine's holes, which would play music and give them points on the scoreboard. The result was great as one hundred people used the device in one evening, while a nearby machine was only used twice.4 By making a game out of recycling, people were motivated to come and recycle their bottles, promoting the brand's creativity and eco-friendly approach.

Fun Theory Examples

After the success of the Fun Theory campaign, Volkswagen decided to continue the experience with a slight twist. The concept was unchanged, but they tried associating their brand with speed by motivating people to choose Volkswagen's fun solution.

Fun Theory: Slide Stairs

In this video, Volkswagen's team returned to the first metro station they had visited the year before and installed a slide on the stairs next to the elevator. The people who wanted to go faster could take the slide and enjoy a fast ride to the bottom without taking the stairs or the elevator.5

Fun Theory: The Elevator

This time, Volkswagen went to a mall to help people who wanted to go faster to use their specially designed elevator. Volkswagen customized an elevator and gave it a rocket launcher style. Instead of having to stop at every floor, the elevator would go from the ground floor directly to the top floor. When people got inside and pressed the button, a countdown started while the doors were sliding closed, and red flashing lights began to light on. When the elevator started ascending, people heard the sound of a rocket ship launching; meanwhile, they could enjoy the ride directly to the top.6

Fun Theory: The Shopping Carts

Volkswagen's team went to a grocery store and modified the mall's carts to integrate a skateboard. People had the choice between regular shopping carts or using the ones with a skateboard to slide with speed in the supermarket. Volkswagen was able to change consumer behavior by showing a faster lane.7

Volkswagen Fun Theory

The Fun Theory Award was established shortly after the first Volkswagen videos came out, thanks to the campaign's success. This award inspired people to discuss and develop new ideas around this theory. People submitted more than 700 ideas using the 'fun theory' in hopes of changing people's behavior positively.

The award winner in 2009 found a creative way for people to respect the driving speed limit by organizing a lottery using speed cameras. Every person who exceeded the speed limit would be flashed and pay a fine like usual, but the money would be collected in a common pot. Each person who respected the speed limit would be recorded on camera as a participant in this lottery and get a chance to win the prize.8

Fun Theory Speed camera campaign StudySmarterFig 2 - Speed camera

The fun theory is an excellent source of inspiration for many entrepreneurs who implement these ideas in their products to make boring activities more interactive:

  • It can be tedious for parents to teach their children how to brush their teeth, as kids' attention span is very short. However, we can now see kids' electric toothbrushes playing music to reward them once they have finished cleaning their teeth.

  • Pizza Hut came up with an innovative way to select and order pizza, rather than the boring way of having to read through a menu. They have designed an interactive table where people can make their selection and clearly see the pizza's size while choosing it.9

  • People have found an alternative to the sound trashcan by installing a basketball hoop on top of a bin. With that addition, people could have fun throwing trash in the bin.

Fun Theory - Key takeaways

  • Volkswagen used the Fun Theory campaign to promote BlueMotion technology and advertise that people could drive and reduce their carbon emissions without compromising the joy and pleasure of driving.
  • The Fun Theory is simple: people are more likely to do something if it is fun. You can apply this principle by making an activity more fun to do to influence people's behavior.
  • Entrepreneurs and marketers can use the Fun Theory to create and promote new and innovative products.


References

  1. Adforum. "The Fun Theory (Film)". https://www.adforum.com/creative-work/ad/player/34460328/the-fun-theory-film/volkswagen
  2. Volkswagen. The Fun Theory 1 – Piano Staircase Initiative | Volkswagen. 26/10/2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SByymar3bds&t=1s
  3. Volkswagen. The Fun Theory 2 – an initiative of Volkswagen: The World's Deepest Bin. 26/10/2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRgWttqFKu8
  4. Rolighetsteroin.se. Bottle Bank Arcade - TheFunTheory.com - Rolighetsteorin.se. 15/10/2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSiHjMU-MUo
  5. Volkswagen. Speed up your life - Take the slide! | Volkswagen. 11/10/2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4o0ZVeixYU
  6. Volkswagen. Fast Lane - The Elevator | Volkswagen. 11/06/2010 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPztb-c16as
  7. Volkswagen. Fast Lane - The Shopping Carts | Volkswagen. 11/06/2010. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEcbkusXUlo
  8. Rolighetsteroin.se. The Fun Theory award winner - The Speed Camera Lottery. 29/03/2010. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcaKocRXCB4
  9. Ellie Zolfagharifard. Pizza Hut reveals interactive table concept that lets you design your perfect pie. 04/03/2014. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2573164/Pizza-Hut-reveals-interactive-table-concept-lets-design-perfect-pie.html

Frequently Asked Questions about Fun Theory

The fun theory was a marketing campaign launched by Volkswagen in 2009 to promote the sales of eco-friendly cars by stating that they were just as much fun to drive as regular cars.

The fun theory is simple: people are more likely to do something if it is fun. You can apply this principle by making an activity more fun to do to influence people’s behavior. 

The Fun Theory is connected to behavioral change.

Volkswagen and ad agency DDB Stockholm came up with the Fun Theory campaign.

Volkswagen sponsored the Fun Theory project.

Volkswagen and ad agency DDB Stockholm created the piano stars experiment.

Final Fun Theory Quiz

Question

What is the Volkswagen Fun Theory?

Show answer

Answer

The fun theory was a marketing campaign launched by Volkswagen in 2009 to promote the sales of eco-friendly cars by stating that they were just as much fun to drive as regular cars.

Show question

Question

How does the Fun Theory work?

Show answer

Answer

The fun theory is a simple concept: someone is more likely to do something if it is fun. In other words, if you can change an activity to make it more fun, people will be more likely to do it.

Show question

Question

What is the fun theory connected to?

Show answer

Answer

Behavioral change

Show question

Question

Who came up with the fun theory?

Show answer

Answer

Volkswagen and ad agency DDB Stockholm

Show question

Question

Which company sponsored the Fun Theory project?

Show answer

Answer

Volkswagen

Show question

Question

Who created the piano stairs experiment?

Show answer

Answer

Volkswagen

Show question

Question

What was the product Volkswagen wanted to promote thanks to this campaign?

Show answer

Answer

BlueMotion technology

Show question

Question

Why did Volkswagen create the fun theory?

Show answer

Answer

Volkswagen used the fun theory to promote BlueMotion technology and advertise that people could drive and reduce their carbon emissions without compromising the joy and pleasure of driving.

Show question

Question

After the success of the fun theory, what was the name of the project Volkswagen was promoting?

Show answer

Answer

Fast lane

Show question

Question

How many ideas were submitted to the fun theory awards after its campaign success?

Show answer

Answer

>700

Show question

Question

What was the goal of the piano stairs experience?

Show answer

Answer

That people take the stairs instead of the escalator.

Show question

Question

What was the goal of the bin experience?

Show answer

Answer

To incentivize people to throw their trash in the bin.

Show question

Question

What was the goal of the bottle bank experience?

Show answer

Answer

That people recycle more.

Show question

Question

When did Volkswagen launch its fun theory marketing campaign?

Show answer

Answer

2009

Show question

Question

How effective was the piano stairs experience?

Show answer

Answer

66% people were more likely to take the stairs than before.

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Fun Theory quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.

Get FREE ACCESS to all of our study material, tailor-made!

Over 10 million students from across the world are already learning smarter.

Get Started for Free
Illustration