Volkswagen use The Force of emotion.

People think they make logical purchasing decisions. But they don’t really. The completely rational man of classical economics is as much of a hoax as the Piltdown Man.

When it comes to great communication, it’s much more important to get the emotion right than the rational arguments. Emotion is the lubricant of reason; without emotion we are unable to make decisions.

I was reminded of all this when I saw the awesome new Volkswagen advert, The Force. I’m sure you’ve seen this ad already; as of today over 30 million people have seen it on youtube.

It went viral because it is sweet and funny, and because it leans heavily on Star Wars, the meme that just keeps on giving.

Volkswagen seeded it out a week before the Superbowl, getting over 14 million views before it even appeared on TV’s most important ad break. But apart from that good seeding strategy – which understood that the web loves a scoop – this is actually a very old-fashioned ad with a very old-fashioned strategy. A strategy that works because it is based on a fundamental truth: emotion beats logic.

One of the commenters on Ads of the World said: “I don’t understand what makes this such a good ad. Is there a connection between VW and Darth Vader? What is the force and how does it relate to the car? Where is the concept and what exactly is the idea? To me it seems successful just because they used a kid and Darth Vader. If i’m missing the point can someone explain?”

You are missing the point, and I will explain.

The ad doesn’t have to differentiate the product, or tell you all the features (that’s what Google is for). It doesn’t even have to convince you of a USP – certainly the remote-control engine-starter is not the difference-maker!

So what does it have to do? Well, Treacy and Wiersema, building on Porters classic work, put forward the idea of customer intimacy being a path to market leadership. A great ad can use emotional storytelling to promote the idea of customer intimacy, of knowing the customer better than the competition does.

This ad very clearly identifies a certain person to whom it wants to ultimately appeal: the 30-something Dad, who loved Star Wars growing up and wants to remember it. He knows he has to buy a car that fits his family needs, but he absolutely does not want to buy some kind of uber-embarrassing Dadmobile. He wants a car to represent him as someone who still knows how to have fun (the remote-controls are therefore symbolic of the Volkswagen’s fun elements), but who cares deeply for his slightly crazy yet super-creative kids.

I know all this because I am that guy.

And, thanks to a brilliantly simple and rather old-fashioned bit of marketing communications, I found out that Volkswagen know about people like me and make products for people like me. And so I will be checking out their range of cars soon. As will, I am sure, thousands and thousands of people like me.

This is a well-executed ad, but even more so, it is a very well planned ad with a fantastic insight.  Well done to the guys at Volkswagen and their agency Deutsch.

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6 thoughts on “Volkswagen use The Force of emotion.

  1. Dennis says:

    All advertising exists to sell more product, right?

  2. dagood says:

    @Dennis: at least in the long run, yes. What’s your point?

  3. Dennis says:

    Do you think the ad will sell more cars?

  4. dagood says:


    Time will tell.

    But, as I explained above, the ad at least makes me want to find out more about Volkswagen cars, and specifically the Passat, because it is clear that Volkswagen understands people like me.

    I guess one question from an effectiveness perspective will be how many people are “like me”, and how many of them watch the Superbowl.

  5. Darryl says:

    Spot on, Dan.

    This is ad that sold me my VW (though not the one in the ad):

  6. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by James Whatley, Abul Hussain and Daniel Goodall, Mobile Ministry Mag. Mobile Ministry Mag said: RT @Whatleydude: Reading "Volkswagon use THE FORCE of EMOTION" by @DaGood – […]

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