Volkswagen Passat & Darth Vader – Dissected
Darth Vader from Star Wars is a central theme in this commercial, and by itself the pop culture reference makes this commercial likely to grab the attention of a large age group. In addition, the inclusion of a child on a mission to use “the force” on many objects around the house, further widens the demographic to include families and parents.
I believe this commercial would be best paired up with comedy shows, sporting events, primetime television and family themed broadcasts. This video was first launched during Super Bowl XLV (Nudd, T. 2011). I believe Volkswagen was trying to target families, including parents and would-be-parents. To be even more specific, they seem to target those parents who grew up watching Star Wars or who have children near age 5; when it is likely imagination is at it’s peak (Wang, S. 2009).
I believe the strongest examples of audiences which have been ignored in this commercial are hardcore sports fans, singles with no aspirations of having children, and the rugged outdoors type. There is simply nothing in the commercial which might play to these mentalities directly.
The powerful “Imperial March” theme from Star Wars is the first thing you hear in this commercial, and it really grabs attention quickly. A few seconds go by as the child walks commandingly through the house, dressed as Darth Vader. Next, the cute factor sets in as the audience realizes the child is trying to use the force, without success. The child visits many rooms in the house that reflect the typical family home, while the failed attempts to use the force tug at the heartstrings of most parents. The dog barks to symbolize dad’s arrival, which any parent with a dog has experienced. Then one of the longest shots in the commercial, of the Passat pulling into the driveway, leaves viewers wondering how this car will bring resolution to the child’s journey to use the force?
The child walks outside and right past the father’s outstretched arms, as he is now determined to use the force successfully on his father’s Volkswagen Passat. As the child concentrates, the music dims to build suspense in the mind of the audience. To the shock of the audience and the child, the car comes to life with a roar. At this point, everyone watching the commercial is identifying with the child’s surprise.
The camera cuts to the key fob in the father’s hand, having just pushed the auto-start button from inside the house. This again identifies with parents, who constantly look for ways to promote their child’s imagination. The music kicks back in and the child is left in the driveway in utter amazement that he actually turned the car on. This moment connects The Force with The Passat and communicates that the car has amazing abilities which will make it easier to be a good parent.
Nudd, T. (2011). The 10 Best Commercials of 2011 | Adweek. Adweek – Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology. Retrieved March 3, 2012, from http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/10-best-commercials-2011-136663?page=10
Wang, S. (2009, December 22). The Power of Magical Thinking. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 3, 2012, from online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703344704574610002061841322.html