Thursday, April 20, 2006

Do Volkswagen crash ads go to far?

Volkswagen has drawn scrutiny with two TV ads that depict graphic crashes to illustrate the safety features of its latest Jetta model. Some are wondering if the ads go too far and if the message of the ad will be clear to the consumers. At first I thought the ad was an insurance commercial, I had no idea it was for VW Jetta until the very end. I've talked to friends about the ad and most believe that people will understand the ad and the point of safety that VW is attempting to make. Although some thought it was just too real and people would only think about the horror of how the people must have felt in the crash. Some ads are more graphic than others, I am in between on this one. I guess we'll have to see how well VW does in this next quarter..

If you would like to see the ad I am talking about you can click here and search for: Do Volkswagen crash ads go too far?


ben said...

I think the ethical problem with the ads is that for the magnitude of accidents, the damage is minor. The one car was t-bone at a medium speed, and the damage looked as if a few punks with rubber mallets decided to redecorate the door.

The commericals are pretty cool and really grab my attention. And that is the point of a commercial, so they are doing a good job.

bekah said...

I don't see anything wrong with these ads; in fact, if anything, I think they're pretty good. Viewers can relate to the funny things the people in the cars talk about- how a guy says "like" too much or won't admit to crying in a movie. So the viewer is connected and actually gets scared for the people when they crash. And then, whew, it's a sigh of relief for the audience when they see all the safe passengers, and of course, it's due to that handy dandy Volkswagon. If the company really got the highest safety rating, it's definitely something to brag about.

The only thing that could be unethical with the ads is if the impact-damage relationship is way off. I've read about one car company who did a commercial about the safety of their vehicle, showing a monster truck drive over a bunch of cars in a row. Of course, the one being advertised stayed strong as the others collapsed under the weight. However, it turns out that the company's advertisers had strengthened their car with beams and had weakened the other cars by cutting at their supports. As long as Volkswagon didn't completely BS their ads, I think they're just great.

Dave Kennedy said...

Bekah, you mentioned the ad where the car had been reinforced. I agree, that's false advertising and it's wrong. But then, I remember an ad for a German car that featured a middle-eastern car bomber who blew himself up inside the car, but the car was so well engineered that it didn't explode. I got a great laugh out of this. I thought it was great. However, now I wonder, was that false advertising as well?

As for the VW commercials, perhaps this is just too blunt, but if a commercial (which is more mild than the lives which most of us lead), is just too graphic for someone, then they're just a sissy. Tough; deal with it.

Boy Scout said...

ben said that "the ethical problem with the ads is that for the magnitude of accidents, the damage is minor." But the fact that VW showed damage at all is a really risky advertising move; they're betting on consumers remembering that VWs are safe, not just a crash sequence. What if this backfires and the thing that is really memorable about the commercial is that it was scary and featured a damaged car? If we're worried about the impact of showing a car that is damaged, but maybe not enough for the severity of the accident, I think we have to consider the effect of using a crashed up car to sell VW in the first place. Using a crashed car to sell other cars is a really risky business venture. Is it really more ethical to show cars swerving smoothly around obstacles that appear out of nowhere or performing impossible feats like towing a trailer with 70 elephants through 10 inch deep mud, while the atomic family sits inside watching movies on 12" flat screen tvs that fold down from the ceiling? I agree with Dave. Let's all just chill.