Feel the force and now it turns out – share the force too. The ad for Volkswagen by Deutsch has topped Unruly Media’s 2011 list for the most shared ads – it racking up a Skywalker-high of 4.8 million shares across social networks since it hit the web, and was aired during the 2011 Super Bowl. That is over 4.5 million Facebook updates, 170,000 tweets and just under 3,000 blog posts (make that now 3,001); with the result that it has now been viewed over 46 million times. The funny thing being we still don’t know what the kid looks like under that mask… if it is a kid at all or how fuel/energy-efficient/amazing the car is. In fact, the Volkswagen Passat remains a bit of a universal mystery, only that I love the advert enough to like the car.
I think the reason this advert is so popular (and there are hundreds of ideas on this) is its obvious cute factor (that ‘please let the boy be happy’ thing going on) plus the car barely features. In other words, the fact that we do not see a car blowing dirt tracks round a moutainous road is a positive. The Volkswagen Passat is thereby rather different – willing to please, family friendly and with a long-range remote locking system. Likewise, there are no features screaming “buy me” and no special effects, thus making the whole ad seems genuine – the happy American family image that I quite naturally want to buy into, and be (complete with that dog). Moreover, like the boy’s frustration being told through his body language, the benefits of this car are left to the viewer to infer – viewers who quite easily could be that massive Star Wars fan who would simply do anything to feel the force, watching this ad being the next best thing. Advertising by association, how very Obi Wan Kenobi.