Audi, Volkswagen and Nissan Try Something Different

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Client: Volkswagen convertible Beetle
Agency: Arnold Worldwide
Star Rating: 3.5

Client: Audi A8
Agency: Tandem DDB, Barcelona
Star Rating: 2

Client: Nissan Z
Agency: Creative Domain and Designory
Star Rating: 1

O, little stars of AdReview, how still we see thee lie
Upon the page with suppressed rage or praises to the sky.

Ah, Yuletide! In honor of the season, here with three little stocking stuffers from the staff to you! And unlike the gifts you've given this season, these are in the automotive category.

VW: The antidote
A 20-something young professional, upwardly mobile

Escape the dreary life in a Volkswagen convertible.
and full of promise, is despondent over the incremental deadening of his feeling self. He rises, he commutes, he works in a protective bubble, insulated from sensory input. Until, at long last, the antidote drives by.

It's a TV commercial, from Arnold Worldwide, introducing the new Beetle convertible. It was also a TV commercial seven years ago, introducing Arnold's whole "Drivers Wanted" campaign. Yes, exactly the same idea, executed very differently -- this time to the thrum of the Electric Light Orchestra's "Mr. Blue Sky" and with multiple simultaneous images, like something out of a 1969 film festival.

Like the earlier VW anthem, "Mr. Blue" depends on a long setup for a very brief payoff, but that payoff utterly conveys the difference between automobile as insulator and automobile as conductor. It's captivating, witty, refreshing and right to the point.

Audi: Cinematic afterthought
According to the breathless press materials, the

Audi's trip back in time.
global launch spot for the redesigned Audi A8 involved 600 people, six shooting locations in two countries, 340 hours at the computer workstation and 55 members of the Bratislava Symphony. The production budget: undisclosed, although we estimate it at $2 trillion.

And the result: an intriguing integration of old footage and new in a spot that surveys Audi's imposing automotive tradition. In fact, it's nearly as intriguing an integration of old footage and new as the 4-year-old Mercedes spot, "Falling in Love Again," that surveyed Mercedes' imposing automotive tradition. Yep, another duplicate -- except this one from a different advertiser.

No great harm. The direct lift by Tandem DDB, Barcelona, will be noticed only in the U.S., and this campaign will run in 70 countries. What's shocking, though, is that the spot is so technique-heavy, so obsessive in matching the texture, lighting, action and tone of the various lengths of footage, that it neglects to allow the viewer to fall in love even once with the Audi A8, which comes off here as a cinematic afterthought.

Nissan: Revving product shot
BMW Films, those overwrought mini-action flicks

Nissan: 123 mph for two minutes.
downloaded all over the world by 12-year-olds with no assets, created quite the buzz. And BMW sales are soaring. It's possible (although we're dubious) that there's a connection -- so here come copycats. The first is from Nissan, and the California duo of Creative Domain and Omnicom's Designory, for the new Z car. The two-minute spot is called "The Run." And that's accurate.

It runs for two minutes -- two solid minutes of the Z car racing around Prague on a recent autumn dawn. The action is marginally more interesting than watching a Z car sit parked for two minutes in Prague, but only marginally, because the ultra-high speeds aren't much conveyed by the footage. There's no story, obviously, and no drama, just a high-revving product shot. We're all for product shots, but not two minutes of them.

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