See the Hilarious Viral Volkswagen Ad That the Automaker Was Very Nervous to Run

Is comedy appropriate after the emissions scandal?

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Among the film entries doing well at this spring’s ad award shows is this stupidly hilarious Volkswagen Tiguan ad from Germany, in which a guy tries to reverse his horse trailer into a parking spot—very poorly, much to the raucous amusement of the horses watching nearby.

The spot, by Grabarz & Partner in Hamburg, picked up two Bronze Pencils at The One Show last month, along with several prizes at New York Festivals. The laughing animals are Super Bowl-esque in their appeal, but the ad also squarely hits the Trailer Assist product feature in a very memorable way—a special feature that VW has always been remarkably good at promoting.

See the spot here:

The ad, which went viral in Germany, wasn’t gleefully greenlighted during its development, though. In fact, VW was concerned that the ridiculous humor of the online spot might strike the wrong chord in the aftermath of the automaker’s emissions scandal, according to Kantar Millward Brown, which did an interesting post-mortem on the ad.

So, VW enlisted the market research firm to do early testing on the ad to see whether there would be a negative backlash. The results were positive and the ad went viral, Kantar Millward Brown says.

“The video proved to be one of the best automotive videos ever tested, scoring significantly above average on key criteria like enjoyment, brand fit and brand appeal,” the research firm says. “As a result, Volkswagen released the video on, where it was watched over 2 million times and uploaded by others. The video’s success prompted Volkswagen to use it on TV, and at last count, the video had received over 36 million views across all platforms.”

Look for it in the Film contest at Cannes, too.

Agency: Grabarz & Partner, Hamburg
Client: Volkswagen Ag
Chief Creative Officer: Ralf Heuel, Reinhard Patzschke
Creative Director: Tobias Ahrens, Matthias Preuss, Jakob Eckstein, Jan Isterling
Creative Team: Matthias Preuss, Paul Von Mühlendahl, Jakob Eckstein, Jasmin Schaub, Axel Doepner, Katja Czok, Michael Güntner, Jan Fincke
Art Director: Tobias Lehment
Production Companies:
Czar Film Gmbh, Hamburg
Bacon X, Frederiksberg
Studio Funk, Hamburg
Director: Bart Timmer
Producer: Niko Maronn
Media Company: Mediacom, Düsseldorf

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@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.