As the Super Bowl nears, just about every car maker and his barely unionized uncle is in high media oil-froth, gearing up for Super Sunday where media excess means consumerist success. It's one empire against another to the death. Rival companies compete for your wallet-based affections with an onslaught of ads that could melt your eye sockets out. It's war.
Apart from the beer wars, one other product category is flogged in this week like no other: cars and trucks. Car makers will spend like drunken sailors high on speed and greased with coconut rum on ads to make you remember their cars, and more importantly, their brand. So how do you stand out from the crowd ("crowd" being the operative word as there are 10 auto manufacturers vying for your attention this weekend)? Simple. You make a great car ad. And this one, of course comes from one of my favorite creative powerhouses, Volkswagen.
Of late, their ads have not really inspired me as they have focused on price, price and more price. But a few have been gems, and I have blogged extensively about them. But this latest one really put a smile on my face. It's VW at its North American best. I specifically gave it that geographical delimiter because VW produces its best ads when they focus on a specific market, and here they use American iconic imagery to their advantage. Essentially, white, professional, well-to-do suburbanites with a nice house. And Star Wars. Target market lasers locked and loaded!
The ad is really simple. A kid in a Darth Vader costume is busily questing through the house while the Star Wars Vader theme blares throughout the entire commercial. Boy Vader is seeking out victims to use the Dark Side's force to do his bidding. Sadly, it doesn't work that well, not even on the dog that walks away from him. Doesn't work on his mom, nor on his sandwich. And then dad comes home, and Vader Jr. decides to test out his powers on the brand new VW Passat. This is a space chariot fit for an evil lord of darkness par excellence! And with some unseen help from dad and the remote starter, Mini-Vader succeeds.
(As an aside, I find it particularly funny that VW chose the Lord Vader music since the Wolfsburg car maker has stated they want to dominate the automotive galaxy at all costs and convert everyone to the Volks-side. Maybe Martin Winterkorn is Lord Vader and Ferdinand "I eat baby hearts for breakfast with maple syrup and a smile" Piech is the evil emperor.)
What is so amazing about this ad is that you can see just how elated or disappointed the kid is without his mask ever leaving his face. You know exactly what his face is saying beneath the mask at every moment. The body language is impeccable. That kid deserves an award for that kind of acting. Enjoy the ad, have a laugh and a smile.