Alpine Summit

Monday, May 01, 2006

Volkswagen Controversy

Diana Hartman at Blogcritics talks about the new VW commercials where they show graphic car crashes from inside the car.

The prevailing question seems to be, do the Volkswagen crash-n-carry sudden-impact ads sell cars?

I'm not sure if they sell cars, I don't see much utility for ads other than letting people know about your product. I certainly don't think people (above the age of 16) seriously say "Celebrity X uses product Y, so I absolutely have to have it too!"

The controversy, though, is much more interesting to me. I'm wondering if this has to do with an attitude and behavior on the road people have when being ensured of a car's safety. I see this especially with SUV drivers. They feel invincible in their suburban tanks, and feel it gives them license to drive fast on ice, cut people off, speed, etc. Regardless of VW's effectiveness with this campaign, they have certainly started up conversations about good driving, and actually showing the violence that takes place inside the car is a good way to show how people are, 1. completely helpless in a car crash--even in the safest of cars (which we are led to believe is VW), 2. wrong to be complaicent with how they drive because the car is "safe."

VW has done an outstanding job in showing people that while their car is really safe, the underlying non-marketing theme of the commercial shows that it's still no picnic to be in any kind of wreck. I could easily see this as an Ad Council campaign for seat belts. This is precisely the kind of shock-advertising people need to see that while a car is safe, it's not a substitute for good, attentive driving.