A major car manufacturer has named a vehicle after Taos for the first time in the town’s history, and local officials say the free marketing couldn’t come at a better time.
Volkswagen announced this month that it’s newest subcompact SUV – set to be revealed on Oct. 13 – would bear the Taos name as a way to “resonate with American customers.”
“It was important to choose a name that really embodied the nature of the car and the town of Taos, New Mexico, was a perfect fit,” said Hein Schafer, senior vice president for product and marketing strategy at Volkswagen of America Inc. “It’s a small city that offers big things – from outdoor adventure to arts and design and great cuisine.”
The company says the Taos will be its smallest SUV. It “will slot under the Tiguan,” a crossover SUV introduced in 2007 that has since become one of the company’s top-selling cars. Car and Driver reported last week that the Taos, known as the Tarek in South America and the Tharu in China, should be about 10 inches shorter than the Tiguan.
Karina Armijo, director of marketing and tourism for the town of Taos, said the German carmaker approached local officials several months back to say the new SUV would be named after Taos.
“We, of course, were excited that Taos was chosen and wanted to make sure they understood the Taos story,” Armijo said.
The town has been involved with VW’s upcoming marketing campaign for the vehicle’s rollout next year. Town officials have helped to provide historical context and have assisted with location information for upcoming photo shoots and a commercial.
“Volkswagen shot teaser materials for the car outside of Taos, on the Río Grande Gorge Bridge and surrounding area,” said Jessica Anderson, product communications senior specialist.
The teaser also features clips of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Taos Mesa throughout the seasons, with distant shots of the new SUV driving across the bridge on U.S. Highway 64 West.
In a pandemic year, when several local businesses have closed and others have been hanging on by a thread, Armijo said the campaign could attract the type of interest that could help Taos recover lost revenue and local businesspeople rebound.
“The benefit, from the marketing side, is a full year or more of earned media at no cost to the town,” she said. “At a time when marketing budgets have been reduced significantly due to closures and reduced occupancy of hotels/B&Bs, this is a great opportunity to keep the Taos brand top of mind at no cost to the region, which in turn helps our small businesses keep their doors open.”
While Armijo said the campaign will have a limited run, a vehicle with the town’s name stamped on the back could provide an even more valuable form of marketing when it starts appearing on American roadways next year.