Sunday, 22 May 2011

"Feel The Force:" How is Volkswagon's new advert for the Passat postmodern?

"The new Volkswagen UK commercial features a pint-sized Darth Vader who uses the Force when he discovers the all-new 2012 Passat in the driveway. It leverages humor and the unforgettable Star Wars™ score to create an emotional commercial." (From the You Tube site). The ad has had well over 38 million hits on Youtube! The advertising agency, Deutch L.A. broadcast the advert during the US's Super Bowl final. The latter is quickly becoming a kind of Oscars for the best adverts.

How is this advert postmodern? What elements in it appear modern (traditional)? Debate between the two.
This brilliant TV advert suggests rather than states and it engages audiences playfully on several levels. Using your knowledge of postmodernism and the theory of the active audience, identify the features which makes this TV advert postmodern. Try also to apply a few theorists.

This the original US TV advert below. The kid thinks he starts the car with this one.

Here's a little help.  Nostalgia is a definitely at play, here. So, too, is intertextuality and the theory of Julia Kristeva. The colour coding is significant, as is the cultural and technological interplay between the generations. Also, with its remote start feature the car seems straight out of Star Wars. Yet there are elements in this advert which are definitely modern. Consider its setting, the gender roles of the characters, etc.

This is what one of the posters said about the US version of this advert from the Althouse Blog.

"E.M.  said...
It’s a car commercial…really must it become a Cultural Exposition? 
Because the commercial tells us literally nothing about the car. There's no inherent benefit to buying or owning a VW that's expressed in the ad. There's no differentiator (remote start? please), no unique selling proposition (or I've heard those things called.)

It's about the human experience, which we are supposed to connect to a brand, VW. It's horribly manipulative, but it's so well done that we don't mind the manipulation, because it comes from a place that seems honest and pure.

Need more inspiration?
This article from the website below is an excellent analysis of the VW Passat TV advert and compares it with modernist attitudes towards advertising.
Leveraging archetype to create meaning

Review in the Financial Times

Darth Vader from Star Wars film, "The Empire Strikes Back," tells Luke Skywalker "I am your father." The advert playfully reverses the roles in its intertextual reference from the film. There are also strains of "The Imperial March," part of John Williams's famous score from the movie.

The making of the advert with bloopers left in.

This TV ad. has already spawned many parodies; this one features a car from another manufacturer.

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