Friday, February 4, 2011


There's a Volkswagen spot making the rounds right now that people seem to be gushing over. All I can say is that as an industry, we have forgotten how to make an ad.

Oh, it's cute. Yes, it is. The acting is wonderful. And though I saw the joke coming from two exits away, it's still charming.

My issue involves none of that. My issue is this: What does the commercial tell me about this particular VW? That you can start it with your remote.

I don't think I'm wrong when I say that Volkswagen is fighting for its life in the US. Hyundai sales keep rising. And many many more people buy Toyotas, Hondas and Nissans than VWs. Everyone else's sales in January saw double-digit gains. Volkswagen gained 6.8%. See chart.

So now, according to this commercial, I should write VW on my shopping list because it's cute?

I think what's happened is that our industry has been perniciously affected by the web. On the web, once someone gets there, you can forget about the competition. You are, essentially, in a magazine that has ads only for your product. You may have to be interesting, or cute, but you don't have to talk about the competitive advantages of your product.

Sure a commercial needs to be interesting and compelling. But it also needs to provide useful consumer information. Otherwise it is just a shoe-shine, a smile and a handshake. With no substance behind it.


Graham Strong said...

Hi George,

I think this is more a "lifestyle" ad, rather than a features ad (though that might not help my case much...)

I do agree with you though -- they squandered some of that attention -- they could have added "8 air bags, 2 dozen cupholders, ABS brakes, all packed in a family-fun sedan" or some such thing, especially for the YouTube version of the ad where time is not so much a concern.

But for what it's worth: if I were in a market for a car, I'd look at VW based on that ad alone. And as my wife will tell you, I'm more likely to avoid a product based on their advertising than purchase it.


geo said...

My only point Graham, is that it is generic. Any car company could run it.

I know I'm odd. I have a life, don't need a car's interpolated lifestyle.

Anonymous said...

The whole using the force thing would've worked waaaay better for this spot:

It would actually demonstrate the features of the car while still being cute.

Anonymous said...

The VW spot is terrible. It's a cute piece of film. But how is it for volkswagon? The end line should have been 'Brought to you by people who love all things Star Wars'. Then it would have made sense. A car ad it is not.

12XU said...

There's something to be said for people talking about your brand. For all we know this is a strategic initial salvo and that a features-driven-spot for TV is coming. VW has a digital features foray on youtube called the VW academy. They're faking out 90% of america who think that the 'product specialist' is not an actress.

On my run this morning, someone that I was running with brought the ad up. People are talking about VW.

According to your theory, then you might say that this ad is bad too:
I disagree. It is a great story with the brand woven in which ingrains into the viewer a positive impression of the brand. They also subtly injected brand legacy into it with the passed bus.

To your point that any brand could run it, that is true. But VW continually delivers smart pieces unlike hyundai's garbage. Did you hear the Jeff Bridges AVO during the holidays? "It makes you wonder, does driving a Hyundai make the holidays more fun, or do the holidays make driving a Hyundai more fun?" I threw up in my mouth a little when I first heard that bit of copy.

Sure VW's numbers are behind right now, but they could change the farther we get away from hyundai's prescient coup of "lose your job and we'll make your car payments" of a year or so back. THAT was an advertising message that made a difference and was executed with a simple showroom floor shot and AVO.

Anonymous said...

12XU, I threw up in my mouth a little when I read these words:

"strategic initial salvo"

"ingrains into the viewer a positive impression of the brand"

"injected brand legacy"

Can I see your book please?

12XU said...

at least i saved the shop talk for the shop.

Anonymous said...

12XU, anyone who talks like that in an ad agency deserves to be sacked.