The new Passat ad II

Passat_ii_1 A Passat ad, discussed yesterday,  is now running on TV.  It features people shouting their insecurities from a megaphone.  One of these people, a man in a yellow car, says:

Because I am compensating for my shortcomings!

Because I am compensating for my shortcomings!

But the same ad on YouTube has this man saying:

Because mine is only about yeah big.

Because mine is only about yeah big.

In the image to the right, you will see the man in question gesturing with his hand, so to illustrate what he means by "yeah big." 

Now television has changed a lot in the last few years.  Explicit references to the male and female anatomy are not uncommon.  But I think it’s safe to assume that no one on the creative team actually believed that they would be allowed to run the "yeah big" version of the Passat ad.

So why did they shoot it?  Why did they keep it?  Why did they put it on YouTube?  I think the answer has to be that they were hoping for a viral effect.  They were hoping for the kind of notice that I am now giving it. 

What kind of virality is this kind of virality?  Making an "unauthorized" version of the ad, was this supposed to make us snicker like school children and send everyone a copy?  As in "look what I found!"  Were we being given the opportunity to admire the daring of the agency and/or the client?  Maybe. 

Or maybe we’re being played.  An ad was, I think, put into circulation quite deliberately.  It’s not a mistake.  It’s not an experiment.  It’s not private exercise.  To judge by appearances, it was made for the express purpose of being "leaking to the internet."  And that’s a little cynical, no.   

So we are left with a very strange combo, here.  The official version of the ad is, as I said yesterday, exemplary.  The unofficial, viral version is cynical and sophomoric. 

Um, I thought the viral ads were supposed to be more sophisticated, not less.  I guess we’re still working on this "new marketing" thing. 


Please see yesterday’s post for a fuller treatment of the ad, and praise for the "official" version. 


This blog originates in a conversation Pam and I had with Debbie Millman over dinner tonight.  Neither Pam nor Debbie should be associated with my bad tempered conclusions. 

10 thoughts on “The new Passat ad II

  1. Charles Frith

    A viral Ad is more sophisticated if it is ‘pull’ as opposed to ‘push’. No pun intended. Humour is subjective and this is a good example of contiguous advertising in the information age.

  2. Rodney Tanner

    As a saliance strategy that makes sense, the objective being to get talked about and connect with insecure self absorbed car buyers that also makes sense (there must be a lot of them out there). Putting it on YouTube is a bit self defeating and superficial. Good old fashioned TV commedy content might be a better bet and more “viral” as well 🙂

  3. Jeremy

    Is it not also possible that the creators simply enjoyed producing/got more personal satisfaction out of the more “sophomoric and cynical” version of the ad, and thus shot and released it so that other people could see it and, presumably, enjoy it as they did?

  4. Adam

    Maybe they just liked the “Yay big” version better, and decided to let it out? Aside from the cynicism you assume, there’s nothing worse about that version. In fact, it may be better than the broadcast version.

    I don’t think the creators were looking for any more of a viral effect because of the “Yay big” comment– I don’t think they’re that stupid. I think they just chose to release the more amusing of the 2 ads.

  5. will

    The “yay big” ad ran on regular TV — I saw it broadcast twice during telecasts of the Philadelphia Phillies on cable here in Philadelphia.
    Two days later, it had been replaced with “shortcomings.” (heh.) I wondered if someone had complained, which is why I Googled it and found this site. So anyway, it did air on TV, albeit briefly.

  6. Grant

    Charles, thanks, I still think this is cheap advertising, chiefly because it seeks to build one brand by savaging other brands. Best, Grant

    Rodney, Thanks, I agree, Good advertising is always more viral than cheap advertising. Best, Grant

    Jeremy, it is entirely possible, and I am sure I am reacting like the Victorian Canadian that I am, on the other hand, doesnt it seem like mean spirited, zero sum advertising. This brands does better if these consumers do worse. Thanks, Grant

    Adam, well which one did they like better? If the latter, why release the yah big at all. Best, Grant

    Will, this is great news, and clarifies things enormously, on the other hand, I guess we have to ask why they shot the second version, and if they really thought they would actually get away with the “yay big” version. There’s a chance they knew it wouldnt last long and had the other deliberately in reserve. Best, Grant

  7. syd

    This is off the subject and I do apologize but does anyone know the brand and or the model of the black and chrome wheel on the front of the black car in the commercial. Thanks in advance!

  8. Lyn Rafe-Lawyer

    I spent all morning trying to find out who are the idiot geniuses at the ‘X’ agency who created the passat megaphone tv commercial.
    What a stupid attempt to get me to buy this car!Most importantly, it is dangerous and reckless showing a woman throwing her megaphone out of the window onto a busy street.

    Please will someone give me the ad agency info I need so I can really complain.

    Thank you.

    Lyn Rafe-Lawyer

  9. Kirby

    I saw the original “yay big” version on FOX television during re-runs of the Simpsons over a dozen times. Only a few days ago did the “Shortcomings” version air (May 27th, 2006), at least here in the Midwest. My guess? Someone somewhere complained about the penis gesture, and the ad agency had to change its product. The cost of producing two versions of what is essentially the same ad with only a minor “verbal” change can’t have been insignificant. And who the hell would notice but somebody like me who watches Simpsons reruns all the time?? No one. Except people who are paying any attention at all. For that, for the courage to risk losing money for an inside joke, I applaud Volkswagen. For the cowardice to cave to what was no doubt a sexually conservative backlash, however, I shake my head in disappointment.

  10. chetara

    actually, they started with the the more subtle copy of it, and then they did air the “yeah big” version. and i’m guessing they got a lot of heat for it, because starting the next day, they reverted back to the version where the man is “compensating for his shortcomings.”

Comments are closed.