By on March 28, 2008

Some car companies produce TV commercials that are targeted at your left brain. They hit you with stats and prices and lots of dry information. Some TV ads cater to entirely to your right brain. They seduce you with music, action and Jill Wagner (what car does she sell again?). And some TV ads try to mix a little bit of both at the same time. And then there are Volkswagen’s ads, which are no-brainers. And I don’t mean that in a good way.

The current marketing slogan used in VW’s commercials: “Sign THEN Drive.” This strap line assumes that you, the viewer and potential car buyer, must be told to execute a car purchase in the following sequential order: 1) sign the papers; and 2) THEN drive off in your new VW. They even helpfully put the word “THEN” in all caps just in case you miss it. Without VW’s instructions, who knows what might happen?

The ad shows us. A clean-cut, 20-something Caucasian male approaches a group of dreaded and hated lawyers (ipso facto). The not-the-Apple-Mac-guy (‘cause he’s busy) informs us that VW is “testing for the new Volkswagen Sign And Drive event.” 

As he approaches the testing site, milquetoast man looks in horror at the multitude of putative VW buyers desperately trying to sign paperwork and drive VWs at the same time. The drivers swerve madly, running over cones and barely avoiding the other three drivers in a huge open area. One of the lawyers whispers into Joe VW’s ear, then he looks at us, mildly shakes his head (“How could we have overestimated our buyers’ intelligence!”). He makes a small notation and tells us that VW is now running the “Sign THEN Drive” event. “Even better!” he assures us.

Never mind that today’s cars offer a multitude of distractions deadlier than trying to sign a piece of paper while driving. Like any other manufacturer, VW offers plenty of potentially lethal electronic asides in their cars. But apparently, VW does not think its models’ buyers are capable of signing their names and driving their cars at the same time. (God forbid you throw chewing gum into the mix.) Such an arduous task will surely send the VW driver careening into a ditch. 

The commercial reflects poorly on VW’s collective (if fictional) intelligence. Did VW really need to “test” for a marketing event? And if the resulting mayhem was so surprising, what does that say about VW’s marketing data and strategy (we had no idea that selling our cars for zero money down would attract paradigms of Darwin’s theory)?

A second VW “Sign THEN Drive” commercial is even worse. It shows a typical 20-something yuppie couple– Asian-American female with a Caucasian male, ‘natch– approaching a pristine white VW. [BTW: ALL of the cars in these VW commercials are white. I don’t know what that means, but I don’t like it. Is BMW designer Chris Bangle “Axis of White Power” secretly behind this?] The male is proudly showing off the automotive apple of his eye to his female companion. 

But as they get closer, the VW honks several times in defense. The couple backs away, then tries again. Again, the VW objects loudly. The female turns to the male and whispers fearfully, “What’s happening?” The guy stands there looking absolutely dumbstruck and flummoxed. 

Cut to a smiling African-American male (VW commercials are nothing if not racially diverse) standing high above the confused couple, next to another Joe VW salesman. He is gleefully playing with the remote horn button on his keyless fob, toying with the challenged couple below. Joe VW offers to put the confounded couple out of their misery, but VeeDub buyer declines, his schadenfreude spreading by the second (with no fahrvergnugen in sight).

Again, we have a couple of clueless VW buyers who apparently have never heard a car honk before, have no idea that a remote fob contains an alarm button (my 1998 Civic had one, for crissakes) and have mental capacities slightly lower than the chicken I ate last night.  Meanwhile, we get introduced to a new type of VW buyer, the Sadist. The Sadist delights in using his new VW to mock and ridicule lower life forms. He stands up high, looking down at the little people, flexing his superior (average) intelligence. And Joe VW, in both commercials, looks on helplessly.

Neither of these commercials tells me anything about VW cars or why I would want one. The humor is crass,  insulting, and juvenile. Along with VW’s recent spate of commercials that show VW drivers constantly getting into accidents, VW seems to have an extremely low opinion of its buyers. Then again, given VW’s poor reliability, high cost of maintenance and repair, and high price points, maybe VW knows exactly what it's doing. 

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71 Comments on “VW AD Campaign is a No-Brainer. Literally....”


  • avatar

    Hey, most of television is crass, insulting and juvenile.

  • avatar
    Orian

    Looked like beginners day at an SCCA auto-cross event!

    The best VW adds were the un-pimp your auto adds.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    Bet you’re over 40. (I would know. So am I.)

    This is one example among many of why VW is popular with young buyers, out of all proportion to its merits. This is MEANT to be stupid. It’s deliberately postmodern humor that is targeted at the age group of consumers who are so jaded by a lifetime of advertising, they admire only the Mason handshake of advertisers who stand ironically outside of the solicitation world as if to say they get it too.

    Is this ultimately disingenuous? Of course, by half. Does it work? Evidently yes.

  • avatar
    alexeck

    Hmmm… I actually like this ad.

  • avatar
    kkop

    Let’s all calm down! It’s just a commercial.

    BTW, VW has done the ‘customer claiming his VW’ before. Then, it was a man (not ‘male’; wtf is that anyway) who claimed his VW by licking the doorhandle.

    Much funnier, IMO.

  • avatar
    shabatski

    I agree with tonycd. I’m younger than 30 and actually found the commercials funny (relative to other car brands.) The non-mainstream style of their spots give VW more of a ‘coolness’ factor than other brands as a whole.

    Now if they could only sell reliable cars I would put them on my shopping list.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    The accident commercials were disturbing to say the least. far from encouraging sales, I know people who cursed VW for actually sending this stuff into their living room at dinner time. Accidents are horrible, not marketing ideas. People involved in similar events don’t want or need to reminded about it and have a VW be offered simultaneously. If someone you love was killed in an accident like that your not going to feel like dropping 40 large on a VW tomake up for it. The feelings are not positive, nor enlightening.

    VW makes craptastic cars anyway. Everyone I see has a burnt out headlight or taillight, why don’t they make a commercial that shows how to replace them.

  • avatar

    I thought both ads were quite funny and brought VW’s message home: we aren’t boring like Honda and Toyota, so give us a closer look.

    (just don’t look at our reliability and cost of replacement parts)

  • avatar
    thebigmass

    I won’t discuss the second ad mentioned, but I strongly disagree with your critique of the first. I do not believe that they are insulting anyone’s intelligence; rather I believe they are using a humorous look at a literal interpretation of the automakers’ oft-employed ‘sign and drive’ event. It’s harmless humor (think “Amelia Bedelia”), and to me, a proud Volkswagen owner, rather funny. It in a way reminds me of my all time favorite stand-up comic’s funniest bit (Mitch Hedberg poking fun of the fact that corn as naturally produced is called ‘corn on the cob’). They’re simply poking fun of a common misuse of the English language.

  • avatar
    paradigm_shift

    I think this editorial is much ado about nothing. It reminds me of people who take themselves and the world around them too seriously. I fully agree with tonycd that these ads are deliberately targeted at young buyers used to self deprecating humor. I don’t see why you are so angry at VW over these ads? I bet you were one of those “outraged” people who called in to the network to complain when Janet Jackson had her “wardrobe malfunction”…

  • avatar
    one.gear

    As my old boss would say… as long as they’re talking about you…

  • avatar
    MikeInCanada

    I too enjoyed the “Un-Pimp your Ride” commercials – if for no other reason then to watch the Gen Y’s cars get wrecked.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCIF6JF1O5U&NR=1

  • avatar

    I also like this ad…not the greatest ad campaign ever, but miles ahead of other car companies. I also agree that this was a pretty useless editorial (what can i say, i like VW)…how about hating on Pontiac’s, “We are Car!”?

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    As a non-tv watcher, I think it’s a catchy, funny commercial. Where’s a link to #2? And I loved the “un-pimp my ride” spots; ausgezeichnet!

  • avatar
    AKM

    I shrugged when I saw it. It’s the same kind of humor than American Pie et al.
    Targeted at my age group and below (I’m 31), but left me cold.

    That said, I loved the Audi ad with the A4 doing a hand-brake parking, and the line “For those who park their cars themselves”, or something like this. Made me laugh, after seeing the bore that the Lexus LS ad was.

    And as signing and driving goes, the worst case or car driven at highway speeds and swerving so dangerously that it was taking all 3 lanes and no one could pass it was a Toyota Camry, driven by a 40-something woman….taking notes with a paper and pad, driving around 75mph. I know there’s a special place somewhere in hell for her.
    Not to mention that any decent cellphone will have voice-recording features…

  • avatar
    RayH

    I third or fourth liking unpimping the ride. I was still in the target demographic that commercial came out, and it really made me stand up, take notice, price out a Jetta, and find out unpimped cost about 3k more than competitive, possibly more pimped-out cars (before they dropped prices across the board).
    I noticed the commercials are ethnically diverse, as well. I live in Ohio/GM plant area, and we’re still over 50% American cars, but I see a fair amount of VWs. I know most of Ohio is not full of hipsters, and I in no way intend for this to sound/be racially insensitive, but I don’t believe I’ve ever seen ethnic folks in any VW, Dayton, Cincy or Columbus. Most people I run across with a VW (other than GTI owners) are wanna-be hipsters who’d otherwise be driving the Audi version, but may well never afford it.
    The reason I say say anything at all is because we do have decently-sized minority population, and as far as I can tell, they drive about every other brand around here. I wonder if VW has some type of white-stigma or something abuzz to it?

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “They seduce you with … Jill Wagner”

    I don’t think that one is aimed at the brain.

    As for the VW commercials. Weird and hostile was my take.

  • avatar
    Jyan Ferng

    tonycd – Actually, I’m well under 40, and decidedly in the target demographic for VW marketers. I understand that there’s a “wink wink nudge nudge” aspect to these commercials, but a commercial can be stupid AND funny AND not treat its perspective buyers like they are idiots.

    Paul Niedermeyer – I couldn’t find the second commercial on YouTube, which apparently is the only place I can attach video from. If anyone can find it elsewhere on the web, I would appreciate it if they would post the link.

    Robert Schwartz – That was my take as well, hence this editorial. Seems like maybe we’re in the minority.

    Thanks for all the comments. This is my first attempt at an editorial for TTAC and if I don’t get blasted to shreds, I’ll try my hand at more in the future.

  • avatar
    menno

    My favorite TV ad was when the original Kia Sedona minivan was introduced, and the adman talked about the value pricing. Something like “we wanted to value price it and our accountants didn’t like that, so we hog-tied them and priced it under $20,000″ (fade in hog-tied accountant with gag).

    Volkswagen ads, on the other hand, leave me speechless instead of laughing.

  • avatar
    TomAnderson

    Sorry, I’m a) in the dreaded 18-24 demo and b) find both commercials funny (or at least I did the first four or five times).

    If you REALLY want a campaign to rip on, see blankfocus’ post.

  • avatar
    CSJohnston

    Gee whiz TTAC, Oscar the Grouch’s got nothing on you guys!

    The ads are kinda dumb but really very harmless.

    Offbeat, quirky, stylish and desirable to the same group of people that desire Macs, Absolut Vodka and other consumer goods of that ilk.

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    Oh lighten up. If you don’t know that is it humor, then perhaps you shouldn’t watch TV, or drive.

    It is just absurd humor along the same vein as Monty Python. It thought it was funny.

  • avatar
    radimus

    The ad would have been better if they wrecked the cars.

  • avatar
    philipwitak

    i’m also one of those ‘over 40′ males – one evidently out of touch with the collective mentality of our younger generations – but also one who happens to have enjoyed a 30 year career in advertising as a graphic designer / art director / creative director. [full disclosure: never worked on a car account]

    while certainly not reflective of my thinking, at least the vw ‘crash’ ads clearly differentiated themselves from those produced and run by their primary competitors. those ads took an unexpected approach/p.o.v., in a sincere effort to capture the attention of their target audience.

    but as far as i am concerned, the new vw campaign is just plain ‘stupid’ and unfortunately, stupidity seems to be everywhere.

  • avatar
    NetGenHoon

    For the Vdub diversity in OH point. The Vdub that got me loving German cars was owned by a black buddy of mine, my buddy’s ex-GF (also black) has a VR6, and a female friend of mine (black 3x) has a Toureg. That begins and ends the VW minority ownership that I have seen. VW is ‘diverse’ which generally is equated with a liberal target audience as opposesd to a specific ethnic group.

    As for the commercials, the first one (sign THEN drive) was completely Monty Python. Annoying, but no harm done. The second still makes me smile.

    Wasn’t the point of the accident adds to emphasize the safety of the VWs? I agree that anyone involved in an accident could be upset, but they made their point, our cars protect their passengers.

    Disclosure: I am included in the target audience, but I’d rather have a CPO Audi, same reliability, more performance/snob value.

    If we want an interesting commercial to discuss, how about the A5 commercial?

  • avatar
    carguy

    The commercial clearly did tha job as you are talking about it. So did the previous VW Jetta safety commercials featuring the accidents. Like Nike, VW really knows its marketing. Now if only they could get that product reliability under control…

  • avatar

    They’re playing off the words Sign and Drive (if you want to be literal minded, that’s ‘sign while driving). It gets a dumb chuckle.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Tempest in a teapot.

    I’m significantly over 40, and I thought the “Sign THEN Drive” ad was amusing the first time I saw it.

    As for the “Alarm Remote” ad, I thought the Asian gal was *brilliant*. First I saw it, I thought I was about to see a creepy slasher flick. In fact, that ad is so good, I fell for it even the SECOND time I saw it.

    I’m still not buying a VW, though. :)

  • avatar
    TwoTwenty

    I don’t think the car alarm ad does VW any good. I get the idea, but I think the couple who wanted to look at the Jetta would walk away thinking that the car (and possibly all VWs) had weird electrical problems. Hmmmm.

    I did like the accident ads – blunt and effective.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Stupid ads, and they cheapen the brand by focusing on the deal (i.e. cutting price) rather than giving me a reason to buy one.

    A real switch from the “safe happens” ads, which were very effective.

  • avatar
    CarShark

    I love the “Sign THEN Drive” commercial. Quite funny. The crash ones were a bit graphic, but effective. The car alarm was a bit surreal, but showed how much the guy liked the car. Between the excessively cynical take on the races of the actors to the snarky projection onto the dialogue, the whole thing struck me as a purposeless rant from someone who obviously stresses the small stuff WAAAAAAAAAAAY too much. Some people just can’t let something be funny. I wonder if this how TTAC gets it’s “all negativity, all the time” rap.

  • avatar
    Jyan Ferng

    CarShark – Actually, I don’t sweat the small stuff. But VW should, and certainly should in their nationwide commercials. The fact that the comments seem to be split 50-50 on liking the commercials and thinking they are stupid, or at least not helpful to VW, certainly is not a good success rate for a multi-million dollar advertising campaign.

    I can let funny be funny if it actually IS funny. The VW car-licking commercial that kkop reminded me of was funny and effectual; it showed the devotion of VW buyers to their cars. What do these ads show?

    In the end, my point was not to critique the commercials based on humor, but to analyze their effectiveness as a whole. What do they tell me about VW cars? How is VW portraying its buyers? Do the ads make me actually want to buy a VW? To me, VW failed on all three counts. If it hadn’t failed, I would have sang VW’s praises.

  • avatar
    rtz

    Terrible. That ad never directly sold one car as a result of it being aired. That ad says: “VW drivers are idiots. Look at how they drive, running over the cones and what not in these dull white cars.” What a waste of money.

  • avatar

    There is an inviolable rule in advertising: never insult the customer. Not jokingly. Not sarcastically. Not ironically. Not post-ironically. Never.

    This ad violates that principle– and how. In so doing, it reveals the cynicism and arrogance that lies at the heart of VW these days.

    It’s an important point that needed saying. I am glad to welcome Mr. Ferng to the TTAC team and look forward to more insightful, no-holds-barred analysis of automotive advertising. (Sorry about the baptism by fire, but that’s the way the B&B roll.)

  • avatar
    Nue

    I thought the commercials were cute and amusing. Appealing to me, under 30 Gen Y here as well. That said, I found these (links at bottom)… shocking considering they came from Toyota. Still, couldn’t help but smile regardless.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJ2yGIYMWwo&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJ2yGIYMWwo&feature=related

  • avatar
    CarShark

    There is an inviolable rule in advertising: never insult the customer. Not jokingly. Not sarcastically. Not ironically. Not post-ironically. Never.

    Pffft. Purely outdated, outmoded old-school think. Those of us not taking Centrum Silver daily are certainly much better at laughing at ourselves and others like us than our elders. Especially boomers, who are easily the most self-absorbed people in the known universe. Ads like these show only that Volkswagen is tune with their audience, which last I checked wasn’t conservative-minded, balding, middle-aged Porsche drivers. Just sayin’

    And saying that this impossible-to-please lot is representative of the public at large is laughable at best, and criminally naive at worst. As often as you guys blast companies for trying to appeal to everybody while ending up pleasing nobody, it stands to reason that a bit of polarization is a good thing, so long as you attract the right people. Having a few remember but dislike is a much better outcome than being forgotten entirely. Only that is a true waste of money.

  • avatar
    p00ch

    At 32, I believe I’m ‘in the neighbourhood’ of this ad’s target group. However, I found the ad to be dull and unimaginative. How exciting is it to see several Darwin-award contestants destroying traffic cones with bland, appliance-like cars? It may not be crass but there’s too much cynicism and not much else. If you want simple humour, this is how I like it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2YkmuW_v5E

  • avatar
    Adub

    I thought this ad was actually funny. The other one with the car alarm is just annoyingly loud. Some people are spending too much time deconstructing ads…

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    P00ch, that WAS funny!

    The VW “Unpimp your Ride” commercials were creepy, but Helga’s legs made up for them…

    I also found myself saying “VeeDub!”

    Some commercials that make fun and get away with it are the Geico commercials (with or without the Gekko), and the AFLAC commercials. The duck, monkey, and goat versions could all be construed as being more or less insulting.

    I thought the VW “Sign THEN Drive” commercials were funny. I didn’t feel that they insulted VW customers, but that instead they poked fun at people’s butchering of the English language.

    That’s something I can identify with, and really, the commercial isn’t meant to be taken literally. It’s merely a way to ask “what if that phrase were taken literally?”

    I will agree however, that “VeeDub” needs to get some QUALITY “in da house” before they spend any more ad money.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    “Thanks for all the comments. This is my first attempt at an editorial for TTAC and if I don’t get blasted to shreds, I’ll try my hand at more in the future.”

    I hope this experience won’t put you off.

    My take on your editorial was that it’s much ado about very little. I find VW commercials so silly that it’s hard to immagine anyone taking the time and effort to analyze them. I do agree with you though, that the VW commericals are ineffective – if their 2% market share is anything to go by.

    CarShark

    ” … Those of us not taking Centrum Silver daily are certainly much better at laughing at ourselves and others like us than our elders. Especially boomers, who are easily the most self-absorbed people in the known universe. ”

    I’ll let you in on a little secret – your generation didn’t invent self-depricating humor, nor are you the first post-irony generation. (As an aside, your generation didn’t invent sex either. If you don’t believe me, ask you parents)

    Several comments have mentioned “target demographics”. I don’t work in marketing, but have long wondered why there is such an emphasis on youth in the marketing world. I’m 51, my wife and I recieved big raises the last two years, our house is paid for, and the kid is grown up. IOW, we have a lot of disposable income now, and will have for the next 15-20 years. Even though I’m no longer hip, I’d think these companies would want my money.

  • avatar
    Rday

    Can’t believe that at one time in my life I was a VW fan. Thank God for Toyota and Honda.

  • avatar
    CarShark

    I’ll let you in on a little secret – your generation didn’t invent self-depricating humor, nor are you the first post-irony generation. (As an aside, your generation didn’t invent sex either. If you don’t believe me, ask you parents)

    No, we didn’t create them…but we did perfect them. :)

    Several comments have mentioned “target demographics”. I don’t work in marketing, but have long wondered why there is such an emphasis on youth in the marketing world. I’m 51, my wife and I recieved big raises the last two years, our house is paid for, and the kid is grown up. IOW, we have a lot of disposable income now, and will have for the next 15-20 years. Even though I’m no longer hip, I’d think these companies would want my money.

    Why? So they can be perceived as the next Buick? Companies want customers that reflect well on them. Look at the ads. Full of young, energetic, active people. Actual dynamic people instead of ones that just have it as a screen name.

    We’ve all made note that going for target demos is hit-or-miss. But the payoff could be huge if you can make a lifelong convert. The college girl in the New Beetle gets a Jetta when she graduates, then a Tiguan after one kid, then a Routan after a second kid, then an Eos after both kids are in college, finishing up with a new Phaeton. Her husband goes from Rabbit to GTI to Passat to Touareg before finishing with another GTI. It’s a very worthwhile pursuit, whether the oldies can catch up or not.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I also disagree with the editorial’s argument. VW has plugged in nicely into youth marketing, and the agency obviously understands the new humor and the hipster aloof condescension vibe that’s popular today. I believe that the target market will find it funny, not offensive.

    But this is a bad ad, and I wouldn’t have run it. The message of the advertising focuses not on the desirability of the car or the vibe of the brand, but that you don’t need much more than a signature to get one.

    That makes it sound like a subprime product, the kind of car that would appeal to customers who have no money. This sets VW up to carry a brand image of being a discount automaker with Hyundai-level pricing, instead of a premium mainstream niche car that slots alongside Toyota and Honda on price but has something unique/different/better to offer to hip, tasteful buyers. The ads need to serve the brand, and this ad doesn’t do that.

  • avatar
    andyinsdca

    Jyan Ferng

    You have done what VW set out to do (along with many other advertisers) – you gave the ad “buzz” which is another way of saying free advertising. When VW came out with the suicide ads a couple of years ago, there was tons of buzz, free play on news shows saying “these ads are bad!” Eventually VW “caved” and donated some money to suicide prevention groups. VW wins.

    If you don’t like the ad, be quiet about it and let it die a silent death.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    CarShark

    Nice play on my screen name. lol.

    “We’ve all made note that going for target demos is hit-or-miss. But the payoff could be huge if you can make a lifelong convert. The college girl in the New Beetle gets a Jetta when she graduates, then a Tiguan after one kid, then a Routan after a second kid, then an Eos after both kids are in college, finishing up with a new Phaeton. Her husband goes from Rabbit to GTI to Passat to Touareg before finishing with another GTI. It’s a very worthwhile pursuit, whether the oldies can catch up or not.”

    But the thing is, it doesn’t really happen. All auto makers want it to happen, and sometimes for Honda and maybe Toyota it does happen, but not for most makers.

    Let college girl have a few problems with the VW, which is quite likely, and they’ll loose a customer for life. They’d be better off creating a life long aversion in someone my age.

    College girl is going to get married and hubby-dude may not be into VeeDubs. He’s going to tell her that something else is better – and he’s probably going to be right. She’ll end up with a Civic instead of a Jetta.

    When it’s time for the minivan, if she shops based in part on reputation and reliability, she’ll end up with a Sienna or an Odyssey.

    The main point I’m trying to make is that I have a lot more disposable income than most 20/30 somethings. I don’t have any student loans anymore, I don’t have a mortgage anymore, I don’t have much cc debt, so if marketers would treat me with a modicum of respect, or even just acknowledge my existence, they might have a chance of selling me something.

    As an aside, I went motorcycle shopping today. I must be in the HD demographic because I was welcomed, waited on, they answered my questions, and I was encouraged to look around as long as I like. When I went to a multi-line dealer I wasn’t waited on at all. I wasn’t even acknowledged. Everyone working there was some kind of hipster doofus wearing a goatee and a stocking cap. I kinda like a Victory that I was looking at, but after a half an hour I just left feeling they really didn’t wan’t my trade.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Dynamic88 :

    …I went motorcycle shopping today. I must be in the HD demographic because I was welcomed, waited on, they answered my questions, and I was encouraged to look around as long as I like. When I went to a multi-line dealer I wasn’t waited on at all. I wasn’t even acknowledged. Everyone working there was some kind of hipster doofus wearing a goatee and a stocking cap. I kinda like a Victory that I was looking at, but after a half an hour I just left feeling they really didn’t wan’t my trade.

    Oh yeah, the Goatee, Stocking Cap (don’t they all sweat under there?), and don’t forget, the ALL-IMPORTANT tats and piercings.

    Maybe I shouldn’t, but I can overlook all of these things. However, more often than not, there seems to be an accompanying ” ‘tude ” to go with that image, which I will not tolerate. I’m the customer, so treat me with some respect, please!

  • avatar
    p00ch

    Speaking of targetting ‘hipsters’, I think the Mini threesome-themed ad from a few months ago was much better than this. Even made my Centrum Silver-ingesting father crack a grin :)

  • avatar
    tech98

    I like most VW ads. They had one a few years ago, showing a guy obsessively washing and detailing a Jetta in a suburban driveway. A proud owner lovingly maintaining his car, you think. Then a guy in a robe steps out of the house and demands, “What are you doing?” Voiceover: Get your OWN Jetta…

    The ‘crash’ series were thought-provoking; Sign Then Drive is silly but harmless. But I hate the beeping commercial. It’s damn annoying to listen to if you have the TV on in the background. And the beep-controlling guy just comes across as an a*hole. What’s the message here — jerks drive Jettas?

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    ” Oh yeah, the Goatee, Stocking Cap (don’t they all sweat under there?), and don’t forget, the ALL-IMPORTANT tats and piercings.”

    Tats and piercings are so commonplace I didn’t even think to mention them. Piercings in both ears, the nose, the lower lip, and tats on the writs and ankles. The girls of course go for even more elaborate decoration.

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    If the ads get more sales for VW from Gen Z or “the youth generation”, then the ads are successful.

    VW probably has no hope of real survival unless they get that youth market. Then again, that same market bashed Scion for a number of product glitches and other issues. Can VW, a company with reputation for bad reliability and arrogant dealer network, remake themselves to fit that markets’ needs? We shall see!

  • avatar

    If part of the ad campaign brief was to get people talking about it and VW… it worked.

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    The “Unpimp your auto” commercials were brilliant, spoofing the postmodern German affectation. Peter Stormare (Swedish by birth) was fantastic. Unfortunately, the latest of the “Sign then Drive” commercials with the two apparently retarded buyers scared of a honking Jetta has none of the intelligence and humor of the previous series. This is not “let’s laugh at ourselves”, this is “let’s laugh at the dumb buyers”.

    I have to say I was seriously tempted after the Stormare series to wait for the diesel Rabbit/Golf to test drive it. The new series has turned me off to that idea. I don’t like being insulted be the vendor. Two many companies produce commercials where they clearly demonstrate they forgot who pays their bills (like the Wamu commercials of yore). It needs to be discouraged.

  • avatar
    p00ch

    As some posters have pointed out, it’s just an ad and all this fuss is unnecessary. While this may be true, I view TTAC as a source of ‘infotainment’ that doesn’t limit itself to ultra-serious, always-relevant topics. In fact, I think it’s fun dissecting uninspired ads because they often say a lot about the manufacturers’ attitudes.

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    Thank you Jyan Ferng. If it werent for you informing me that VW was insulting me every step they took and the critics that said Led Zepplin sucked, I’m not sure how I would have made it through this life.

    Not a big fan of the horn commercial, but the sign then drive made me laugh a bit. Though the “Fast” ones were awesome. So much so I ended up buying one of those little “fast” toy animal things. Unpimp your auto was fun to, almost made me purchase a GTI. I love the way the actor said it. Itz time to unpimpz zeh auto!

    You should really lighten up a little. Might make the world a bit easier for you if you didn’t take everything so seriously.

  • avatar
    blautens

    Insulted? Maybe because I was a cop – I *cannot* be insulted, but that’s a bit of overstatement, isn’t it?

    I liked both commercials…with DVRs on every TV, I don’t watch many commercials, but I’d actually go back to watch VW commercials (at least once or twice), since they’re usually amusing.

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    I saw the VW ad as part of a larger advertising trend that’s been around for at least the last 5-8 years or so. I call it “The Not-Funny “funny” ad.” IOW, it is an ad that is, by it’s construction, intended to be funny or humorous, but which is (deliberately) delivered in such a ham-handed, stilted fashion that it falls flat.

    I think TonyCD is right: It’s supposed to be postmodernly hip, intentionally bad, like the movies “Napoleon Dynamite” or “Hot Rod”, it’s as if the advertiser winks back at us and says “aren’t these ads stupid?”

    Robert, I think this type of ad is one that deliberately rejects the advertising maxim you quoted, for the sake of PoMo ironic detachment.

    Whether VWs ad will have the desired effect will be shown in the sales figures, I suppose. There does seem to be a weird symbiotic relationship between VW and Mac computers. Both seem to appeal to a demographic that is intent on marking itself as separate and distinct from the mainstream.

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    By the way, since we’re talking car ads (and yes, I am mesmerized by Jill Wagner strutting around in a floaty dress, why do you ask?) what about the recent Cadillac ads with that sultry voiced woman telling us that her car makes her have orgasms? That’s even more ridiculous than the Led Zeppelin ads from a few years ago.

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    You mean the chick from Grey’s Anatomy? Am I the only one that thinks shes not hot at all?

  • avatar
    Atomos

    You know, when I saw the ad where the Jetta’s alarm kept going off, I thought VW was just demonstrating the electrical bugs these cars usually come with.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    I must have missed this editorial…..

    I think you’ll find of most car ads that the VW’s on a whole seem to be well liked. I’ll agree the sign and drive bits are very good but a hell of a lot better than the Ford Edge commercials. It’s obvious that it’s a joke, a play on words and its mildly funny.

    If you think of memorable commercials from the past few years the ones that stand out are the “Un-Pimp da auto” ones for the GTI and the “Safe Happens” for the Jetta and others. Both were well received and got many views on YouTube. As to white cars? It’s the most popular color for cars sold and VW has used it for years. Some cars like the GTI look really good in white.

    I’ll have to say I disagree with the author on this one. The question I do have is there analysis of other brands marketing forth coming? If you look at one you should probably look at them all.

    Or is this just an early April Fools editorial?

  • avatar
    davejay

    I’ve worked on enough media pieces for automotive marketing efforts to know that legalese is the bane of a marketer’s existence. For instance, the number of times we’ve had to change the text “This feature will do this” to “This feature will help do this” to cover their legal backsides is legion around these parts.

    So the first ad, I think, is a case of marketers writing a joke to an audience of marketers; it’s not a big leap to go from “legal copy always has to be tweaked as if someone is going to take it literally” to “what if someone DID take it literally?”

  • avatar

    VW is ridiculous

    we looked at a Rabbit, then went to check out a Civic . . . . we wound up getting a Civic SI Sedan for $20 more/month than a Rabbit sedan.

    Oh, and it drives waaaaaaaaaaaay better than $20/month more should deliver.

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    I also like the one where Slash is rocking out ontop of a GLI.

  • avatar
    wsn

    VW is laying off 20,000 employees worldwide. Either the AD campaigns are not working or the cars are truly horrible or both.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Hmmm, I watched the ad and thought it was funny and memorable. The point is simple: VW is having a no-money-down sales promotion. How many ads are able to make that point in an amusing and memorable way?

  • avatar
    NoCarNow

    What is the point of all the gratuitous descriptions of the race and ethnicities of the people in the ads? How was that even relevant to your broader point? Furthermore, ads with “diverse” casts are hardly novel in America in the 21st century.

  • avatar
    Pelle Schultz

    I hate the ad with the guy clicking his key fob. It reminds me of all of the electrical problems/gremlins with which my two Audis were replete. Even my wife’s current ride (’05 GTI)–largely problem-free otherwise–has a tendency to blast its alarm at random intervals while sitting sheltered and unmolested in the driveway at 4 AM, as well as other minor but recurring electrical issues (interior lights that won’t shut off, etc).

    Thank you VW…for continually reminding me why I’ve moved on, and will steer my wife away from anything associated with the brand next time she buys a car.

  • avatar
    John R

    I am so sick of seeing the “white-male/asian female” stereotype. Do asian males not exist in this dimension?

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Orian :
    March 28th, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    The best VW adds were the un-pimp your auto adds.

    Lady: What does that thing do? (Pointing to a hood scoop)
    Guy: It sucks air.
    Lady: Well, it certainly does suck.

    Loved all of them. I was just reminded of them on Sunday when I saw a VW Golf with a ridiculously large rear spoiler. Reminded me of the commercial where they try to launch a “pimped” auto with a tribuchet (sp?).

    As tot he original topic, I also think the author is a little to easily annoyed. I didn’t think that the first commercial was all that funny, but it didn’t make me want to throw a brick through my TV set like some commercials. The second commercial actually made me smile the first few times I saw it. Neither of these commercials is on a par with the unpimp my ride commercials, but they aren’t that bad.

  • avatar
    kjc117

    As a VW owner I find their demographics quite alarming.
    Their core is not a educated as in the past. Most of that demographic has moved on to Toyota/Lexus, Honda/Acura, Subaru, BMW, Audi, MB, Volvo, and Nissan/Infiniti.

  • avatar
    Queensmet

    When was the last time anyone bought a car based on an AD? I turn all TV ads off. If you hadn’t mentioned that it was VW I could not have told you. The Toyota ad for the Super Bowl, with the sleeping badger and the cannon was a funny ad, but when it was all said and done I can not for the life of me tell you which Toyota it was for. In fact it took sefveral viewings before i could remember it was Toyota. (Then again they all look the same),


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