Saturday, January 21, 2012

Volkswagen's Star Wars Dog Choir: Super Bowl Preview Edition

UPDATE: Volkswagen released their Super Bowl spot.  After you finish this preview article, check out my review of Volkswagen's Fat Dog New Beetle Star Wars Cantina.

Dear readers, you may not have known this before, but I am related to royalty.  No, not English Monarchy royalty, although my husband is English.  My older brother is King of Star Wars Fanboys.  Okay, you've got me, that may not be a real title--but only because High Overlord Lucas hasn't officially sanctioned it. But the point remains, my older brother is one of the biggest Star Wars fans out there.

That means that I grew up with Star Wars as a very big, very real part of my life.  I'm definitely a fan and happy to see when it pops up successfully in pop culture.

Which is why when I received a reader request for a post on the new Volkswagen commercial, I just had to do it.  [Thanks for the suggestion, Dyan!]

If you haven't seen it yet, here it is:

I'm guessing your first reaction was, "Wow, that was so cute! A bunch of puppies barking The Imperial March!" Not a bad response.  But if you let it stew for even a moment, your next reaction should inevitably be, "What the hell did that have to do with Volkswagen?"

There's a huge disconnect in this commercial. Yes, it's a great clip bound to go viral and attract some attention.  Yes, in this age of YouTube and the Twitters that's all you need for success. And yes, by writing about it, I'm only contributing to that effect. But, as an advertisement, I'm a little lost.

If you follow the link at the end, you're taken to a Volkswagen America page where you can send out your Super Bowl party invites using the famous Star Wars intro title crawl. That's not a bad trick for all the Star Wars fans out there.

But again, where does that get you?  You've made a commercial pandering to the fanboys [and fangirls] who have a fever, and the only cure is more Star Wars [not more cowbell].  Not to pigeonhole or sterotype too badly, but how many of those folks are hosting Super Bowl parties?  And even if you've hit the right interested people, the one thing this commercial doesn't do is make me want to go buy a Passat.  I'm more likely to watch it and go adopt an Italian Greyhound and dress it up as an AT-AT. 

I can't imagine how Volkswagen got Lucasfilms on board with this, but it is a very cute spot.  It succeeds in its adorableness.  Who wouldn't love a puppy choir, right? The expectation for a commercial like this is to get people talking and looking out for what's coming next.  This is a teaser ad.  It isn't supposed to make sense on its own.  And quite frankly, it doesn't!   The text at the end displays 2.5.12- the date of the Super Bowl. So, keep an eye out for whatever will follow.  It promises to be full-on geeky glory.

Speaking of geeky glory... were you able to recognize all of the characters in the dog choir?  On first watch, I only spotted the Wookie, the Ewok, and the AT-AT.  But upon closer examination, you'll find the gang is all there:

Apologies for using prequel Obi Wan, but the dog's coloring fits better with Ewan McGreggor. And for all the criticism the prequels took, I don't think McGreggor was the problem.

If you look at the Chewbacca still, you can see the Storm Trooper's gun.  I nearly missed that, but caught it when I was trying to capture that shot. Luke's got his Lightsaber.  Han Solo dog looks like his legs are khaki colored, very appropriate. Little Yoda dog's fur is the color of Yoda's coat. It's really not a bad cast.

The video has a look like it's had to be tweaked a little too much in order to get the effect of the dogs barking the march- especially for the staccato notes.  The editing makes it look unnatural and a little weird.  But, for a group of dogs barking The Imperial March, it's not bad.

It looks like the good people at VW are big Star Wars fans.  If this wasn't enough evidence for you, I'll direct your attention to last year's VW Super Bowl commercial:

Now that was a great commercial.  It hit all the right notes to be a memorable Super Bowl spot.  Whoevever is in that costume is a brilliant physical actor.  From the body language when stalking the dog, to the hand on helmet as mom passes the sandwich, to the surprised turns at the end when the car starts up.  It's amazingly well executed.

I'm sure it also invokes every fanboy's love of the franchise from a young age.  This kid can't be the first to dress up as Vader or practice summoning the force. Remember Kevin Smith as Silent Bob all through Mallrats?

I love the original, and if this is what VW is capable of, I have high expectations for Super Bowl Sunday. 

Here are The Ratings for the Dog Choir:
Appeal: A
Effectiveness: C+
Longevity: B+


The longevity score got a bump from that Italian Greyhound AT-AT.  That dog is so beautiful and so ridiculous dressed up that way that it makes me think I'll be happy to watch in the future.

Unnecessary side note: growing up I was slightly obsessed with Volkswagens.  I always dreamed of owning a Beetle, then fell in love with Jettas and later Cabrios.  I love the look of those cars.  However, none of those opinions have influenced my opinion on this ad in any way. I am happy that it's much better than their miserable "Sign then drive event" commercials! Ugh. I can't stand those.

For more Super Bowl related news, check out these posts:
Super Bowl XLVI- Honorable Mention For M&M's Ms. Brown 
Super Bowl XLVI: The Top Ten Best Commercials of 2012
Super Bowl XLVI: The Commercials Live Blog
Budweiser- King of Super Bowl Commercials 
Matthew Broderick's Day Off
Matthew Broderick is Back as Ferris Bueller in Honda's New Super Bowl Commercial- Teaser
Pet Peeve: Shazam

1 comment:

  1. There are no words to describe this commercial, other than 'epic'. I'm not even a Star Wars fan and I LOVE it. Very well done. Great job with the pictures, especially the Ewok and Storm Trooper.