The Force (advertisement)
|Release date(s)||February 6, 2011|
|Music by||"The Imperial March" by John Williams|
The advertisement for the 2012 Volkswagen Passat, created by Eric Springer, Michael Kadin, Ryan Mclaughlin, Craig Melchiano and David Povill at advertising agency Deutsch, features a young boy (played by Max Page) in full Darth Vader regalia attempting to use The Force to start a washing machine a clothes dryer, and to wake the dog and a doll. After he is unsuccessful in those attempts, he is startled to discover that he can start the car, though his father actually does it using a remote control.
The Passat ad appeared on YouTube the week before its TV debut on February 6, 2011. By the next morning, the video had received one million views; the number reached 8 million before the commercial aired on TV. The online version lasted sixty seconds, compared to thirty in the broadcast version, and the long version stood out more in people's minds. As of February 7, the video had more than 15 million views. Page's mother, Jennifer, said the reaction was "overwhelming. ... I can't even keep up with the messages and the calls."
James Rainey of the Los Angeles Times said the ad "will get inside people’s heads and stay there because it combines the iconic 'Star Wars' character and a classic sentiment—a child’s desire to be larger than life." Of all the Super Bowl ads, Rainey said, "the one you’ll actually want to see again is Volkswagen's, powered by the force of a tiny Darth Vader who tells a simple story, with a little body language and nary a word."
Stuart Elliott of The New York Times enjoyed the ad, calling it a "loving spot-on tribute to Star Wars." CNBC's Phil LeBeau said that the commercial was "clever, original" and "left a strong lasting impression." According to USA Today the commercial was posted online 5 days before the Super Bowl and had already garnered 13 million views by the time the game aired. It also scored number 3 on the USA Today Ad Meter.
On May 23, the Passat ad won an online competition on the CBS special Clash of the Commercials: USA vs. the World, in which people were asked to "choose the greatest commercial of all time." The second-place finisher was Heineken's "Walk-in Fridge".
By the end of 2011, Advertising Age said, "With 600 placements, the video is on pace to become one of the most-watched viral ads of all time." In its first year the ad had over 49.4 million views. The video is also the most shared ad of all-time.
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