‘People’s cars’ ad hits a human spot

For years – decades even – Volkswagen in South Africa and its ad agency, Ogilvy, have mastered the art of understanding and portraying the reality that, for many people, cars are more than just machines. Some of us love them, some of us tolerate them and a lot of us realise the power of a car to change a life.

The latest TV ad for VW is ostensibly for its Tiguan SUV but is, in reality, a reminder that the company makes “people’s cars” and that people are just that… emotional.

The new ad tells the story of a woman who, one night, alone in her apartment, decides to abandon long-distance communication and drive through the night to be with her love.

Ogilvy Cape Town and Erik Van Wyk of Bouffant Productions (who directed the longer version of the commercial) say the other message is: as the world becomes increasing digital and we are able to connect with each other virtually, so we experience an increased sense of isolation, distance and lack of personal contact.

Chris Gotz, executive creative director of Ogilvy Cape Town, said the insight was that “all this new technology can actually disconnect us. Then we thought about how the Volkswagen brand has always brought people together”.

“By carrying us to our loved ones safely and also in the sense that they are ‘people’s cars’. From there the story came quickly. It’s based on a lovely truth.”

It’s not often I agree with people in the ad business, but this time there is little I can add to what Chris says.

I am still driving a 23-year-old VW Jetta which has as many memories as hundreds of thousands of kilometres under its wheels. It’s seen laughter, it’s seen tears – and plenty of road rage from me. But it’s never let us down.

To VW and Ogilvy, Orchids for your insights and for still producing some of the best car advertising around.

A number of my colleagues at The Star have been very irritated by a clearly not-very-good PR by the name of Myra Rego at a firm called Younique Concepts.

Apart from employing the silly scatter-gun approach of firing off her silly press release (for some entertainment or lifestyle thing called Soul Candi) to everybody and his or her dog, she then followed up with a host of even more irritating e-mails marked “urgent” to inquire if we would be using the information.

Compounding that rudeness and incompetence was the fact that, in the follow-up mails, she didn’t refer to the original rubbish other than to its name.

So, for the edification of Myra and other similarly silly PR people, some Communication 101 tips:

Finally, carry on this way and you’ll get other Onions to accompany this one.