Rather than dwell on the brand’s current trust issues, Volkswagen and adam&eveDDB would rather you take a look back at the brand’s history and remember the good times. Just not too far back, you know.
This is very much in keeping with what we heard from sources close to the matter who told us that, despite executives’ concerns, VW would not be running any campaigns that directly address its years-long emissions cheating scandal.
The brand asked its social media followers to share Volkswagen memories with the company, and adam&eveDDB, production company Tantrum and post-production company ENVY took one such entry and turned the story into a two-minute spot. “When we heard Barry’s story, it gave us an idea,” the ad opens.
Barry talks about his memories of growing up alongside his father’s golden Beetle, eventually learning to drive the vehicle. The memories provide a connection to his father, now mourning the loss of his wife and suffering from dementia. It also reminds him of his brother who moved to Canada after getting married, especially when going through old family photos. But clearly the brand isn’t going to leave it at that, as a spot of sad, wistful memories around the Beetle don’t do a whole lot to help Volkswagen. Instead adam&eveDDB and company have an entirely predictable surprise in store for Barry, before ending with a call for viewers to share their own memories with the hashtag “yourVW” so that the brand can mine it for more advertising content.
The spot is well shot by director Amanda Blue and does manage to tug at the heartstrings. Viewers familiar with loss and families drifting apart can’t help but relate and Barry’s memories are presented as inextricably tied to the brand. Whether viewers will connect with Volkswagen through the ad or find the approach of capitalizing on Barry’s nostalgia an openly manipulative way to distract from its recent wrongdoings is another matter, though.
“Because of the film’s personal nature, our main aim was to keep any post work as invisible as possible to allow plenty of space for Barry to speak to the viewer,” ENVY Advertising producer Philip Archer told The Drum. “I think we achieved that and helped make a really beautiful piece for adam&eveDDB.”
If you’re wondering how Volkswagen and company pulled off the stunt, check out the “How we did it” video below.