Adwatch (Sept 21) - Top 20 recall: VW Golf Cabriolet goes deep

Insight about the relationship between car and driver taps into deeper themes.

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This ad has been described as 'classic VW', meaning that here we have a lovely insight, executed with charm and craft. I agree.

The film cuts together scenes of people messing about in roofless vehicles, from go-carts to dodgems. We're asked 'Remember how the cars you had most fun in never had a roof?' and are shown the Golf Cabriolet in a (comparatively charmless) coastal road shot; then the (somewhat baffling) title 'The Golf among the cabriolets'.

I'm not a car person, but I like this ad. First, it left me smiling. At a time when we hear endless reports of motorists' misery, cars and smiling are rarely in the same sentence. And let's face it, if I were to entertain buying a car, especially a new one, in this financial climate, and a soft-top after the summer we've had, it would be because I believed it could make me happy.

Second, in the best tradition of VW ads, this observes the simple truth that cars need drivers and drivers are people. Rather than trying to sum up the model in a snappy line, there's an insight here about the relationship between car and driver that taps into deeper themes of childhood, freedom and fun.

Third, at a stretch it might leave me thinking the normal Golf was less boring than I had previously thought, thus haloing back on the main brand.

It's puzzling that so much car advertising lives in its own peculiar world, built out of winding, empty roads, with its own impenetrable language. This ad has a humanity often lacking in its category. There's definitely stuff to like here.

Nonetheless, how much is there to love? For all the craft, humanity and charm, I was left wanting more.

For me, it doesn't inspire a strong-enough response - desire, envy, surprise or intrigue - to overcome the daunting obstacles to purchase that the industry currently faces.

I'm also not convinced that it is arresting enough to make its mark in the Sky+, media-overloaded world of its target audience.

While the eternal principles of good communication will never go out of fashion (a genuinely revealing truth seems hard to come by these days), this ad feels like it was created for a world that is fading.

When you have found a way that works, it is hard to move it on; but there comes a time when 'classic' is not necessarily a good thing. To stay fresh and relevant, all the best traditions need to be reinvented and adapted to new circumstances.

I have a deep fondness and respect for VW advertising, but if there was a moment to start experimenting with the legacy, this is it.

Adwatch (September 21): Top 20 recall
Latest Sep-21 Brand Agency/TV Buyer Recall
rank       %
1 (–) Foster's Gold  Adam & Eve/MediaVest 48
2 (–) Microsoft Windows 7 

Crispin Porter & Bogusky/
Universal McCann

3 (–) WKD  Big Communications/
4= (–) Macmillan  Arthur/PHD 37
4= (–) IKEA  Mother/Vizeum 37
6 (–) Cheestrings  Fallon/Vizeum 35
7 (–) Uncle Ben's Rice Time  BBDO Düsseldorf/
8 -2 Morrisons  DLKW Lowe/MEC 30
9 (–) Dolmio Pasta Vita  Proximity London/
10 (–) Aldi  McCann Erickson Manchester/
Universal McCann Manchester
11 (–) McDonald's  Leo Burnett/OMD UK 26
12= (–) Jacamo  The Gate Films/Carat 25
12= (–) Hedrin  Bray Leino/Bray Leino 25
12= (–) Dreams  RKCR Y&R/Starcom 25
15= (10=) Tesco  The Red Brick Road/Initiative 24
15= (–) The Co-operative  TBWA\Manchester/
PHD Rocket
17 -13 WH Smith  DLKW Lowe/Carat 23
18= (–) Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet  DDB London/MediaCom 22
18= (–) Cillit Bang 

Euro RSCG London/

20 (–) Quorn Fish-less Fingers  Quorum/Initiative 21