Volkswagen is Going Back to 1985, sans Michael J. Fox

German automaker Volkswagen’s engineers decided to go back to das drawing board and bring new – corporate – life to the 1985 video that made A-ha’s “Take On Me” famous.  So I don’t know about Michael J. Fox, but Doc is definitely behind this campaign.

A-ha’s video took six of MTV’s VMA awards that year primarily because of the amazing way it merged animated pencil drawing and real-actor filming into one surreal reality. The story centered on a bored woman in some boring diner being invited into a comic book by a Patrick Swayze lookalike (those were the 80s). Long story short, there is romance, a mirror, and bad guys chasing the couple through the pencil-drawn world.

Whereas in the original video the protagonist motorcycle racer gets killed by wrench wielding competitors (Mercedes, BMW?), the hero of VW’s version drives a… drum roll… Volkswagen and leaves the bikers in the dust (and leaves us wondering if those were BMW motorcycles). For the perfection-obsessed VW (of the iconic Lemon ad), running away from wrenches is an unusual twist (perhaps VW engineers use gentler tools or sing their cars’ bolts into loosening up).

The “Drive on Me” ad gets even better- the entire race is a dream of some happy VW owner bored in an office meeting (a dream within a dream within… Inception!). Why is he happy – well, because of Volkswagen’s free oil changes. Das what? Has the power of German engineering and the pursuit of perfection given way to the great marketing tool of servicing freebies? What’s next, Maserati advertising free windshield scrubbing?

There’s a lot of ad nonsense garnering attention these days. If Kia’s hamsters are taking over the red carpet, sure the makers of the Volkswaven GTI – ranked #1 Upscale Small Car by USNews – can compete on oil changes.

In the meantime, let’s reimagine other classic music videos as modern ads. How about Thriller, where Michael Jackson is replaced by Geico’s gecko (and squirrels, and cavemen, and – scariest of all – piles of cash)?   But don’t get me started about Geico’s gecko or green animals in general.

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