Sure, the Darth Vader spot is cute if you like “Star Wars” and you like kids. I thought the spot was cute, for sure; it made me smile. But since advertising is my job, I look for more than likability (although this is very important, too) in commercials: what was the strategy? Did it deliver the message? What is the take away for the brand? What is the take away for the product being promoted?
This morning as I watched actual “news” coverage of the spot and an interview with the child actor that was in the Darth Vader costume, I hit my tipping point of curiosity and started searching for some explanation for the strategy of the spot. The majority of the talk online, much like that “new” segment I saw this morning, talks about how “cute” the spot is and how much everybody liked it; there was little, if any, mention of the brand or the product. While I can accept that it is a brand ad and they are not necessarily trying to sell Passats, can it be considered successful if no one remembers/talks about/notices the VW brand itself?
It was on AdAge that I finally found a real review of the spot:
“But if we were VW, we wouldn’t be too triumphal too quickly. Another name for the Relationship Era is the Listenomics Age, and if you listen to what was being said, you’d notice that the vast majority of the Twitter traffic mentions the ad, and not the car. Not even the model — which happens to be a Passat. Certainly nobody mentioned the ad was nominally promoting keyless ignition, and no wonder: that’s all but a generic feature.
“So, yeah, VW got some positive attention, and that’s good. But the attention wasn’t on automobiles. That’s bad. This could have just as well been a McDonald’s commercial. Which just goes to show: If you’re peddling entertainment instead of products, cultivating smiles not constituents, the Brave New World will be just as easy to squander resources in as the cowardly old one.”