GUY RAZ, HOST:

And speaking of dogs...

(SOUNDBITE OF BARKING)

RAZ: This is a new ad by an agency behind last year's most memorable Super Bowl commercial.

(SOUNDBITE OF 2011 VOLKSWAGEN SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL)

RAZ: A spot for Volkswagen where a little boy dressed as Darth Vader starts his dad's new Passat...

(SOUNDBITE OF 2011 VOLKSWAGEN SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL)

RAZ: ...using the Force.

(SOUNDBITE OF 2011 VOLKSWAGEN SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL)

RAZ: Well, not actually, because the car has a remote start feature. But the ad was a huge success. The little boy became an overnight star. And today, that ad's been viewed online almost 50 million times. It's all in part because the agency behind it, it's called Deutsche LA, did something revolutionary in the ad world. They put it on the Web a week before the game.

MARK HUNTER: People were even more excited about waiting to see it, you know, in the game because of that, and of course, you know, all the online chatter and buzz it generated.

RAZ: Mark Hunter is the chief creative director at Deutsch LA. He says right now, any agency worth its salt is pre-releasing their ads.

HUNTER: Absolutely. It's totally de rigueur now. I mean, you have to pre-release your spot. You'd be mad not to. And our thinking was, well, you know, we need to remain one step ahead of the game here. What can we do?

RAZ: Well...

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(SOUNDBITE OF BARKING)

RAZ: That's where the dogs come in.

(SOUNDBITE OF 2012 VOLKSWAGEN SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL TEASER)

RAZ: You can watch this video online. It's about 15 dogs in a room, all different shapes and sizes wearing little "Star Wars" outfits barking "The Imperial March." And although the dogs were shot separately and then looped and edited together, Mark Hunter swears their barks were not auto-tuned.

HUNTER: We simply got as many facial expressions as we could visually and had them bark as many times as they could as many different ways, and an editor wound up stitching all the sounds together. But no, that's not artificial. Those are the real dog barks, absolutely.

(SOUNDBITE OF 2012 VOLKSWAGEN SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL TEASER)

RAZ: And what does this have to do with Volkswagen? Not a whole lot.

(SOUNDBITE OF 2012 VOLKSWAGEN SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL TEASER)

RAZ: The logo just flashes very briefly at the end. The thing is, this ad, it's actually an online teaser for another ad, one they'll also pre-release online before the Super Bowl. So it's an ad for an ad for an ad.

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HUNTER: I mean, this really is a creative sort of arms race when it comes to the Super Bowl. We know that a lot of the competition who were just waiting - and maybe even thinking that they would pre-release four days ahead instead of three day have now seen, you know, this thing out a full two weeks in advance.

RAZ: We asked Mark Hunter if this is the wave of the future, if this is the way ad agencies will operate from now on.

HUNTER: I wish I could tell you we have that answer right now, but I certainly can promise you we will 12 months from now. It's a yearlong Super Bowl ad next year. It will run a second a day, 365 days.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

RAZ: This is NPR News.

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