Nomological Net

Stray thoughts from here and there. The occasional concern for construct validity. No more logic. Fish.


faults in the clouds of delusion

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Das Rickshaw

A Hall of Fame contender for the Annals of Moronicity.

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.


Blogger Rahul Siddharthan said...

"Soccer mom"? You've spent too much time in the US. India is still the land of Altos and Santros (and now Nanos), even if there are a lot of BMWs and Audis on the road these days. Also, "Volkswagen" = "people's car" -- if anything, they're pushing their cars more upmarket in India than they would be in other countries.

Remember that Volkswagen's cheap brand, Skoda, ended up being a very successful luxury car maker in India. VW obviously needs to place themselves higher than that, regardless of what a Passat is used for in America. A Honda Civic is an economy car in the US, and a premium car here (even the Honda City is a premium car).

(I haven't seen the TV ads but can believe they're rubbish -- as most TV ads here are.)

2/16/2010 9:23 AM  
Blogger km said...

Ell. Oh. Ell, Herr TR.

I can't believe they actually used "Das Auto" for a campaign in India.

//Time for the Dasguptas of the world to rise up and claim that tagline as their own.

2/16/2010 9:31 PM  
Blogger full_moon_p said...

Can't they do a little bit of research before that market their cars?! Hell, they could have hired a cheaper Indian ad agency and would have been advised better!

2/18/2010 11:01 PM  
Anonymous Big Eyed Fish said...

Overheard at the Delhi Auto Expo earlier this year:
Dude 1:'Abe yeh kaunsa stall hai? Badi bheed hai yahan.'
Dude 2: 'Abe yeh toh Das Auto ka hai. Chhod na, udhar DC dekhte hain.

After that, I couldn't bring myself to enter their hall either.

Some drops from the wise men:
'The campaign has the single aim to create and drive brand awareness'
'This is a heart-winning commercial'
'While our target group is essentially premium and upper premium, we want to be warm and appealing and a part of the masses'

Make one feel ashamed to be a part of this garbage-spewing Machine.

2/22/2010 2:26 AM  

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