Is "The Force" strong with this strategy?

Volkswagen unleashed its marketing power during Super Bowl XLV on Sunday night, transporting viewers-in spirit-to a time long, long ago to their make-believe days. An anonymous child in costume romps through a house while wearing an oversized Darth Vader helmet in an attempt to quixotically use The Force, courtesy of George Lucas, to move household objects.

You immediately connect with this wishful thinking. In fact, you may have been this child while growing up.

The moment the Passat roars to life seemingly at little Darth Vader’s command invites everyone to cheer. As engaging as the ad may be, it stirs questions of what the audience is rooting for.

The Passat does not appear until midway through the commercial and actively displays just one of its features. We get glimpses of the exterior and a view of the driver’s console. To be fair, the ad is more of a teaser than a full profile of what the car offers. Keeping with the style of movie trailers, the audience is informed the car is “coming soon”.

While the ad does appeal to that kid in me, it does not make the car itself a “must-see”. I came away with more nostalgia for the classic Star Wars movies than an interest in the Passat.

This commercial has all the right elements to make it memorable, but it may create a marketing dilemma. Remember the Taco Bell chihuahua campaign from the late 1990s? The comical dog became wildly popular, but the goal of increasing sales to Taco Bell’s expectations was not met.

Advertising needs to be sticky and keeping the audience’s attention grows harder with every new media platform. However, the product must not get lost in the cleverly designed message.


About Joao-Pierre S. Ruth
New York tech correspondent for Xconomy, tech writer for Investor Uprising, and aspiring urban fantasy writer. I also make brownies and crème brulee.

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