Volkswagen Returns to Super Bowl


Volkswagen of America is returning to the Super Bowl this year. The carmaker is launching two 30-second commercials, which tout new models (due out later this year): the 2012 Passat and redesigned “21st Century” Beetle.

For the Passat, VW is turning to “the force” of Lucasfilm’s Star Wars to build buzz for the midsize family car. A boy dressed as Darth Vader channels the dark side to the iconic music of John Williams’ “The Imperial March” on a Passat parked in the driveway. The boy is shocked to find that he's successful, not knowing his father started the car remotely through the kitchen window.

The Beetle commercial is a teaser. It stars not the remodeled classic, but an animated beetle that shows off its speed in a lush forest to the rocking music of “Black Betty,” rerecorded by Jon Spencer and the Blues Explosion. The final shot exhibits the insect in silhouette and fades to a white outline of the car’s curved top and the announcement: “The 21st Century Beetle. Coming this fall.”

Deutsch/LA, Playa del Rey, Calif., created the ads.

The Super Bowl provides “a great opportunity to raise awareness of the Passat and the Beetle,” two models that will be critical to VW’s growth in the U.S., said Tim Ellis, vp of marketing at Volkswagen of America. “It is absolutely essential that we succeed with Passat. It is the linchpin to our growth.”

To support the company’s aggressive growth goals, which Ellis has projected as tripling sales to 800,000 units by the year 2018, VW is increasing its media budget by 55 percent this year. A 95 percent increase is expected in its digital spending, said Ellis. Last year, VW spent $115 million in measured media, according to Nielsen. U.S. sales were up 20 percent, outpacing the 11 percent industry growth average.

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