When done right, wryly positioning a product benefit as a potential liability can be a great formula for comedy. So it is with this new U.K. Volkswagen spot, which promotes the automaker's fuel-saving Start/Stop technology as a boon to future generations … just not to the one sitting in the backseat.
The ad, from Adam&EveDDB in London and Outsider director James Rouse, opens on the streets of a deserted city at night, as a father is seen driving around with his infant son—evidently trying to soothe him to sleep. The only problem is the Tiguan's Start/Stop feature, which causes the engine to shut off whenever the vehicle comes to a complete halt. This saves gas, but doesn't do any favors for our fidgety baby—who wakes up and starts crying at every red light. When the light turns green, the engine starts up again and the baby drifts back to dreamland.
The acting here is great. The father has a William H. Macy-like hangdog look, with months of sleep deprivation written all over his face. And the baby is incredible, too. (You get what you get from babies, as VW well knows, making this particular performance even more remarkable.) The kid seems perfectly on edge, and the way he smacks his lips when he goes back to sleep is hilarious. They're at war, these two. And what Dad thought was a strength—his environmental consciousness—has turned out to be his Achilles heel. Few ads so adroitly moderate their own green impulses—which works great on parents, for whom managing the chaos of their own personal environment is at least at important as caring for the larger one.
New parents in particular will love this ad. Few topics instantly draw them in quite like their offspring's sleep habits (or lack thereof). Kids' ability to sleep in cars is also a cornerstone of parenting folklore—one that McDonald's also tapped into with its charming spot set at a drive-through. This VW ad is charming, too, but has that underlying sense of desperation (perfectly offset by its almost sarcastically happy soundtrack) that only adds to its richness.
Someone should tell Dad, though, that you can turn off Start/Stop with the push of a button.
Communications Manager: Natalie Lamont
National Communications Manager: Kirsten Stagg
Marketing Director: Rod McLeod
Project: Think Blue
Agency: Adam&EveDDB, London
Executive Creative Director: Jeremy Craigen
Creative: Nikki Lindman
Creative: Toby Brewer
Planner: Tom Lloyd
Media Agency: Mediacom
Media Planner: Chantelle Ratner
Agency TV Producer: Lucy Westmore
Account Director: Jaimie Jennings
Managing Partner: Jonathan Hill
Business Director: Paul Billingsley
Account Manager: Tom Trevelyan
Production Company: Outsider
Director: James Rouse
Producer: Benji Howell
Audio Postproduction: Factory Sound
Postproduction: Work Post
Media: TV, Cinema, Online