Thursday, February 2, 2012

Volkswagen's Fat Dog New Beetle Star Wars Cantina

Bulky title, right? If it seems like a disjointed mouthful of words that do not under any circumstances belong together, then I've managed to truly capture the essence of Volkswagen's full length Super Bowl spot.

You may recall that Volkswagen put out a teaser for their upcoming Super Bowl commercial, entitled "The Bark Side."  I wrote about it here. Ah, the days of anticipation and hope. One might even refer to it as "A New Hope" (har har). The teaser had everyone wondering how VW would follow up last year's adorable hit about a mini Darth Vader.  Star Wars fans everywhere prepared for another commercial that would really speak their language, be it Wookiee or Jawaese.  Instead, they will be subjected to the following bloated mess.  Consider yourselves warned.

Two words come to mind.  "Wow" and "damn." Where should I begin?
First, how about the digitized dog in a fat suit? I don't even know what to say about that.  This is a commercial due to air over one of the most glutenous weekends on the American social calendar.  Come on, Germans! Know your audience! Are you trying to make me feel guilty and miserable about the 17th buffalo chicken wing I'm about to put in my mouth?  Or the vat of guacamole that I'm about to devour? Most of the fun of a Super Bowl party is the food!

So great, you've depressed your audience by laughing at their love handles.  Good work there.  But here's a thought, when we watched "The Bark Side," I would imagine most people expected to see a Star Wars themed commercial starring all of those dogs.  But... nope. We got Episode I: The Fat Strikes Back followed promptly and inexplicably by Episode II: Cantina Wars.

The dog in this commercial reminds me more of Spaceballs than Star Wars.  Remember that 1987 Mel Brooks classic? This dog is a dead ringer for Barf--the Chewbacca-esque sidekick played by the late, great John Candy.  See for yourselves:


There was only one moment on "the dog side" of this commercial that made me smile.  That's when fatty pup waddled onto his exercise ball.  The whole thing is just beyond absurd.

But just when you think you've been watching one mediocre car commercial, you realize that you're stuck in the middle of two mediocre car commercials! You are instantly whisked through the matrix via flat screen TV to a galaxy far, far away into a cantina that is only vaguely reminsicent of the one on Mos Eisley.  Frankly, the cantina in my Lego Star Wars game is a more convincing depiction.  And yes, I own and have played Lego Star Wars-- thanks again to that older brother of mine. At least they got the music right.  I love that little ditty.

What a stroke of advertising genius! The folks at VW found the perfect tie-in.  You can make any commercial a Star Wars commercial and attract the devoted legions of fans if you play your crappy commercial on the legendary flat screen TVs of the Mos Eisley cantina.  What? What did you say Star Wars geeks?  I can barely hear you over the shrill screams of your peers. The cantina wasn't chock full of flat screen TVs?  The stories of Star Wars occurred "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away" where people wouldn't care about the new, new Beetle? Aw shucks.

But that's not the only problem with this ad. That pug-nosed alien is the only person in any galaxy who would argue that this dog spot is better than the mini Darth Vader commercial from last year.  That commercial was sweet and surprising, had a fantastic connection to the product, and was a fine specimen of physical acting by whoever it was in that Vader costume. It was a creative and memorable bit of advertising that should have made the folks at VW very proud. This, in short, is not. It's not any of those things. When our pug-nosed alien friend starts to choke, I'm rooting for Vader. Any idiot who thinks this fat dog is better than the Vader kid deserves a good throttling.

And not to completely nitpick, but why on earth or any other planet would Darth Vader himself be marching through the cantina? Ugh. 

As I said at the start, this is a completely disjointed mess.  It doesn't make any sense.  The dog teaser was far better even though it had no connection to the car.  Flag on the play. Offense. Technical foul. You have access to the entire Star Wars play book and this is what you do with it?  5 yard penalty.  Better luck next year.

The Ratings:
Appeal: C+
Effectiveness: C-
Longevity: C


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

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