A powerful voice for a powerful car:
Dennis Ritter-Eichenlaub wins Scirocco Song Contest

Thousands of employees celebrate their superstar's live performance

Several thousand employees from Volkswagen's German plants feverishly awaited the final of their Scirocco Song Contest. Whose voice would be singing the Scirocco TV commercial? It was a tense competition right up to the last moment, when Dennis Ritter-Eichenlaub took up the microphone on Thursday to sing "I wanna be free" live to an audience that rocked and cheered.

The jury was unanimous: this is the voice for the new Scirocco – powerful and dynamic, a voice full of secrets and surprises. Dennis Ritter-Eichenlaub embodies the spirit of the new Scirocco in every respect. According to star producer and jury member Leslie Mandoki, he confirmed that both in the studio and on stage. "You can literally feel the excitement about the Scirocco. That resoundingly confirms our Scirocco Song Contest has very successfully broken new ground as far as communication is concerned," a delighted Stephan Grühsem, Head of Volkswagen Group Communications and also a member of the jury, said. His impression was confirmed when the audience comprising several thousand employees began to rock as song contest winner Dennis Ritter-Eichenlaub walked onto the stage to sing "I wanna be free". Jury member Jochen Sengpiehl, Head of Marketing at the Volkswagen brand, is convinced that the song will let the sparks fly with customers, too: "Dennis Ritter-Eichenlaub, the Scirocco and our commercial go really well together."

34-year old Ritter-Eichenlaub works as a mechanic in Technical Development at the Wolfsburg plant. Because he thought it was a really good idea, he made a spontaneous decision to take part in the contest when the Sirocco Song Contest karaoke bus drove into the plant. The VW employee plays and sings in his spare time, too: as a hobby musician, member of a band and DJ he knows what makes audiences rock. Dennis Ritter-Eichenlaub was overwhelmed by the jury's decision: "This is a marvelous opportunity and I'm so grateful. I'll give everything I've got to make my voice right for the Scirocco."

"We all found the decision really tough," Mandoki said on behalf of the other jury members. Several things have to come together to make a good artist; voice, talent, interpretation, stage presence and experience singing live are just some of the qualities the successful music producer named. "It was a hard struggle before we finally decided on Dennis," he said, adding that the studio recordings had confirmed the potential Dennis still had to activate the final kick needed to bring out the maximum emotional effect for the new Scirocco. "The talent at VW is amazing," VfL Wolfsburg trainer and fellow jury member Felix Magath added. Singer Mina, also a member of the jury, explained what she believed also played a role in choosing the new star: "The candidates must enjoy what they're doing, they need to be expressive and mustn't allow their attention to wander when they're on the stage." Sengpiehl was full of praise: "All the finalists obviously have talent and most also have experience singing, but the contest nevertheless demanded a great deal of courage." Grühsem added: "Every Volkswagen employee had the opportunity to prove themselves in an unusual way during the Scirocco Song Contest. We'd like to thank everyone for taking part."

The internet voting produced a neck-and-neck race between Hana Slavickova and Giacomo Miliziano: Miliziano caught up on his colleague, who headed the field right from the start and won 18% of the votes, coming to within one percentage point of his closest competitor. She put all her power into the song: "I think a dynamic car needs a dynamic voice and a dynamic personality – and that's me," she said, and also expressed her approval of unusual ideas such as the song contest. For Miliziano, the contest was the perfect combination of hobby and job: "Volkswagen has often helped me in my career and now I have the chance to return the favor." He did just that with a very catchy interpretation of the new advertising song.

Longing and urgency are the two epithets that best describe the voice of Cesare Piseddu, who was voted third out of the 25 contestants. The hobby musician thinks the Scirocco song suits his voice especially well. For Sven Arnold the chance to represent VW and the Scirocco was a fascinating opportunity. For the Genesis fan, his nomination by the jury was a wild card to follow in the tracks of Phil Collins at Mandoki's studio.

The Scirocco Song Contest

Almost 150 Volkswagen employees from many different departments at the plants in Wolfsburg, Brunswick, Emden, Hanover, Kassel and Salzgitter took part in the contest with their interpretations of the Scirocco song. The winner will perform the Scirocco song in the TV commercial. A jury selected the best 25 singers from a total of 146 candidates. From May 5 – 24, 2008, visitors to the www.scirocco-contest.de website then cast their votes for the best three candidates to go through to the final. The jury nominated two further talents.

"I wanna be free", the Scirocco song, was written by Leslie Mandoki, one of Germany's most successful music producers. A special Volkswagen karaoke bus equipped with a mobile recording studio toured the plants so that as many employees as possible could audition.

It's back: The new Scirocco

Volkswagen is filling in the wait until the market launch of the Scirocco in late summer with the Song Contest.

The new Scirocco embodies everything a coupé should be: the fascinating strategy of putting a sports car on wheels that is for use every day of the year at absolutely affordable prices. In the Scirocco, high-class technologies merge with low cost of ownership, dynamic driving characteristics merge with a high level of comfort, and a surprisingly spacious interior merges with an uncompromisingly sporty design.