That headline sounds like the title of a raunchy joke. It’s actually about VW’s new commercial – which involves two guys, a sheep and the company’s small crossover, the Tiguan.
They “make their own kind of music.”
But will VW make money?
That’s what’s interesting about this commercial – the word in italics to emphasize that, once upon a time, commercials touted products, not ideology. An interesting counterpoint to this VW commercial is the old VW commercial for the GTI, the zippy version of Volkswagen’s Rabbit/Golf. That commercial was about the car. You could not tell who was driving.
Because who cares who’s driving?
The commercial wanted you to want the car. It was shown hot-shoe’ing around the track, drifting, getting air. To the accompaniment of a song about cars – Ronnie and the Daytonas’ Little GTO – adjusted a little for the little GTI and sung in German.
The announcer explained that “In Germany, people who love high performance driving drive a Volkswagen GTI more than anything else.” And the commercial showed how they drive it. This made you want to drive a GTI, too.
Of course, that was 1984.
Here is 2023 (almost):
It’s a commercial, too. Just not so much for the car. You hardly see it, at all. And when you do see it, it’s not moving. Or not moving much.
Rather, a lifestyle is portrayed.
You see the two guys, walking their sheep. At home with their sheep. The sheep making a mess of the guys’ house. The guys giving the sheep a bath. The sheep baa’ing. Naturlich, the two guys are one black and one white.
Not – as Seinfeld used to say, in the days when you could still say such things – that there’s anything wrong with that. The two guys and their sheep. But why is VW trying to sell a lifestyle – an ideology – rather than cars?
Because it’s not 1984, anymore.
Well, not in terms of the timeline. But the literary reference is apt in that Orwell’s fictional world has become very much our world. It differs from the one portrayed in the book in that our world purveys the party line – what you’re expected to think – in softer, Mama Cass tones.
In this case, sung by a Pappa Cass.
But the underlying tone rings true.
Back in ’84, VW marketed cars toward as many people who might be persuaded to buy them as possible. That being the point of a car commercial. To sell cars. Almost 40 years later, VW is marketing a lifestyle . . . to whom, exactly?
And why would a car company want to do that?
It would be interesting to determine how big a slice of the demographic pie consists of inter-racial gay couples with sheep. And then find out who – within VW – decided the ROI (return on investment) would be worth putting together an ad affirming their lifestyle. Of course, the “return” these days is not measured in terms of sales but rather virtue, signaled.
Notwithstanding what is depicted on TeeeVeeee and in modern commercials, the majority of the people watching aren’t gay and even fewer are involved in an inter-racial gay relationship with a sheep. While it may be “phobic” to state these facts (though fear isn’t what heterosexuals sans sheep are feeling) these are, nonetheless, the facts. Out of every 100 people who might be in the market for a small crossover like the Tiguan, probably 90-plus of them are heterosexual, not involved with a sheep – and might be interested in the car – if VW would tell them about it – rather than the lifestyle, which they already know about.
Well, except perhaps for the sheep.
This VW commercial thumbs its nose at those people – in the insipid way that this is done in modern commercials. You aren’t barked at – as in 1984 (Orwell’s 1984). But you are preached at.
“Life gets bigger when you break from the herd,” says the female voice-over.
Well, maybe so – if you’re into that.
But will VW’s sales get bigger?
Indeed, it is very possible they may get smaller on account of turning off a lot of people who might otherwise be interested in a Tiggy – which is a fine little crossover, though nothing to get your pulse up, as was true back in ’84 of the original GTI.
If, that is, VW took the time to explain to them why they ought to be interested in a Tiggy – as opposed to trying to sell them on a lifestyle they’re not into and which probably a lot of them don’t want to be associated with.
Cue the rictus of outrage from those who are into it.
But we’ll see if VW can make up for the sales it’s losing via all this signaling. Similar signaling hasn’t worked out so well for Netflix and other purveyors of ideology over product.
Go Woke, go Broke.
That’s what happens when you climb Brokeback Mountain with your sheep – and expect your market to baaaaaa! its approbation.
. . .
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