Folks in India, and/or those who have been watching broadcasts on the Neo Cricket channel in recent months, will have seen an ad campaign for Volkswagen in India. I think the first I saw it was about three months ago, during the India-SL series, and I remember how awestruck I was by how bad the commercial was. Actually, it's worse.
For those who don't know (and I will NOT post this video here), the ad features a scruffy middle-classish kid in a car showroom, asking the suited salesman whether it is possible to book a car in advance. The guy says yes, so the kid says he wants to book a car for his eighteenth birthday (which appears to be about ten years in the future). The salesman then puts the kid inside each of the main VW models -- Golf, Jetta, Passat, and Touareg, accompanying each with a statement which is inane than the last. For instance, the Jetta is supposedly the car for the vice-president of the firm, which the kid can drive when he is 24. The Passat, that haven of the soccer mom, is apparently perfect for the kid when he is a CEO. The spot is mind-blowing in its inanity on many levels -- TPB goes ballistic about "what they're teaching the children", I personally am aghast at what they're doing to the brand. This spot is bad, but the follow-up in the campaign, featuring a bunch of morons drinking some black liquid while they laugh about another moron who walks into a bar holding an animal's skull, is a pinnacle of human achievement. Both commercials end with a voice-over mangling the word "Volkswagen".
All that executional shit apart, yesterday I realized what was *truly* unbelievable about this campaign. Both commercials sign off with the VW logo on a black screen, under which a tag line appears, accompanied by aforesaid voice-over. Clearly this is something that is meant to awe and impress. The tag line? "Das Auto".
Entschuldigen Sie, but has anyone stopped to think what this means to an Indian? You are trying to position yourself as a premium car brand (forget the soccer moms for a moment). Let me spell this out very clearly:
- AUTO means RICKSHAW, a common mode of transportation in which someone pulls you around, either on foot or by means of a yoked cycle.
- DAS is a common middle class name. Taken literally, it means servant.
What can I say, oh Car of the CEO? Go to Fail. Go directly to Fail. Do not Passat go. Do not collect $200.