Wednesday, February 8, 2012

This ad deserves the death sentence on twelve systems

While the "Darth Vader Kid" ad did not win our Least Shitty Ad award during the 2011 Super Bowl, it certainly was in no danger of winning one of the bad awards. Nor was this year's follow-up, which for most of its length is actually pretty good and might have contended for Least Shitty Ad. Then it takes a turn. Thus, we present:

The Ian Malcolm Memorial "Your Scientists Were So Preoccupied with Whether or Not They Could, They Didn't Stop to Think If They Should" Award

And your winner... that's right, it's Volkswagen!

This ad is a minute long. For the first, oh, 42 seconds, it is at least passably amusing and certifiably adorable. The fat dog is getting himself into shape! It's cute. Sure, it's barely an ad for the car, but we at least see the car, and VW is really counting on the fact that people are generally familiar with the Beetle anyway. Really, so far, so good.

Unfortunately, ads aren't 42 seconds long. It's at this point that we pull out to reveal that the first 42 seconds were actually being watched on a TV in the Mos Eisley cantina from Star Wars (I guess ads are 42 seconds long in galaxies far, far away). And then we get this nonsense:

Evazan: "That was great!"
Ponda Baba: [grunting noises]
Evazan: "No, the dog is funnier than the Vader kid." [begins to choke]
[Darth Vader, across the way, is Force-choking Evazan; finally he relents]
Evazan: "Sorry."
[Vader storms out]

And, scene.

Look, I like Star Wars. I only had to look up one of those character names, even. But what was the point of this? The ad with the dog has nothing to do with Star Wars, nor did it need to. And make no mistake about it, Volkswagen wants you to associate this ad with dogs AND Star Wars - just look at the teaser they put out a couple weeks before the Super Bowl:

Volkswagen is hardly the first advertiser to call back to a commercial of theirs that was popular in a previous year. Really, it happens all the time. But that doesn't make it funny when there's no legitimate tie-in anywhere to be found. All I get from this ad is that VW thought, "Hey, we've already got the rights to use the Star Wars characters in our ads... let's do it again!" But then they couldn't think of anything else to do with them, so they just had two super-fringe characters step in to editorialize on the unrelated ad they'd already created.

Hence why VW gets this additional, made-up award: for doing something that they COULD do without apparently ever stopping to ask whether they SHOULD do it. As much as I like Star Wars, it isn't inherently funny. Volkswagen would do well to remember that.

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