For decades, sightings of Volkswagen Beetles have prompted children and adolescents to stop, scream, and punch their nearest friend.
In new work that introduces the latest, redesigned iteration of the classic model, Deutsch/LA posits a calmer, more adult alternative to Punch Buggy. The goal of the game: Upon spotting a Beetle, demand a high five from the driver. Get enough people playing, and he'll be so busy slapping hands that he'll have a hard time actually getting anywhere in his car.
The spot below follows one such young man as he attempts to go about his daily business, only to find himself beset by well-wishers reaching out to congratulate him, ostensibly for being behind the wheel of such a totally cool car. While cruising the city and stopped at red lights and in parking lots, the surprisingly patient driver fields high fives from a varied cast of characters—the looming truck driver, the friendly construction worker, the cop on horseback, the cheerful little girl, the well-coordinated dog, and of course, the obligatory pretty woman. Then, as the commercial comes to a close, the protagonist rounds the corner to find himself, to his dismay, facing a cavalcade of spandex-clad bicyclists. Still, he acquiesces.
The ad's feel-good, if not particularly groundbreaking, message, boiled down: Buy this, and everyone will want to be your friend. "That's the power of German engineering," reads the tagline. Listen too closely to the verse lyrics on the mostly perfect soundtrack—Shirley Ellis' 1960s hit "The Clapping Song"—and you might wonder what vice-prone animals going to heaven in a rowboat has to do with selling VWs. Meanwhile, Friendly's latest campaign is also all about high fives, promising to hand out a trillion of them to promote its "High Five" value menu. Maybe all of the buzz around Contagion has made us more paranoid than usual, but running around rubbing palms with strangers doesn't seem like the best way to avoid a global epidemic.
As one YouTube commenter quipped about the VW spot: "I thought this was a commercial for Purell."
Ad Agency: Deutsch/LA
Director: Chris Palmer
Creative Director: Matt Ian
Creative Director: Michael Kadin
Copywriter: Scott Hanson
Art Director: Pilar Santos
Copywriter: Richard Thamabesi
Producer: Dave Stephenson
Associate CD, Art Director: Mark Peters