Super Bowl Preview: That Viral Volkswagen Ad

Super Bowl ads are known for being expensive, unorthodox and sometimes more memorable than the game itself. Volkswagen's new ad, "The Force," for example, has already received millions of views on YouTube. Guest host Linda Wertheimer talks to Michael Kadin, creative director of Deutsch LA, the agency behind the ad.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

Little girls aren't the only ones marketers want. Advertisers are also competing for the attention of grown men. Two giant brands, Star Wars and Volkswagen, have joined forces to bring us what is already one of the most talked about Super Bowl ads of 2011. It's received millions of views on YouTube, and it starts like this...

(Soundbite of Volkswagen Super Bowl commercial)

Mr. MICHAEL KADIN (Creative director, Deutsch LA): You would see Darth Vader walking down the hallway, and then you would see that this Darth Vader is in fact a mini Darth Vader who was about four feet tall.

WERTHEIMER: That's Michael Kadin. He's the creative director of Deutsch LA, the ad agency behind the new Volkswagen Super Bowl commercial. That mini Darth Vader you see in his ad is actually a 6-year-old boy who we see walking through his house...

Mr. KADIN: Trying to use the force to turn his washing machine on, to get his little sister's doll to move, and basically, to bring these inanimate objects to life.

WERTHEIMER: And he does this by - he sort of squares his shoulders, strikes a pose and hold out his hands.

Mr. KADIN: Yes. He is using all the powers of the force that Darth Vader has to bring these things to life. Then he sits dejected in the kitchen, hand on cheek, very frustrated. He hears his dog bark...

(Soundbite of dog barking)

Mr. KADIN: ...which cues him that his father comes home. And he just runs outside the front door, his father wants to give him a hug, but he blows past his dad and goes right up to his father's Volkswagen Passat.

WERTHEIMER: And once again, he lays on the Volkswagen the force.

Mr. KADIN: Yes. At this point, he's really trying to bring the heat on. Nothing has worked thus far, nothing has come to life. And then he's using all his powers of the force and the car actually roars to life.

(Soundbite of car starting)

Mr. KADIN: And he is amazed that he's done this and then he just jumps back. He's astonished. And reveal that the father has remote start and he's actually started the car from inside the house and the child has no idea. But it's part of these parents ritual to, you know, to engage with their son's, you know, fantasies.

WERTHEIMER: Now, this ad is already - it's on YouTube. We looked at it on YouTube. Putting an ad like this, which is going to cost you, I assume, millions of dollars to produce and then to buy time on the Super Bowl, why get it out there early?

Mr. KADIN: Well, you know, these days, it's all about getting the content ahead of the Super Bowl so you create a buzz before you get to the game. For instance, we released it just two days ago. Yesterday, I dropped off my 6-year-old at school and her friend came up to me and said, I saw your Volkswagen spot on YouTube. And she started to explain the idea back to me like I didn't know what the idea was. And it was a very funny commercial, and this little boy is trying to bring these things to life and then none of it works, except for the Volkswagen. And unprompted, she played it back as if she was the creative director on it.

WERTHEIMER: Michael Kadin is creative director of Deutsche LA. And, of course, you can see his Volkswagen "The Force" ad online and tomorrow when it airs during the Super Bowl.

Michael, thank you very much for coming in.

Mr. KADIN: It's been my pleasure. Thank you.

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