Volkswagen Ad Aims to Give Americans a 'Break' From Tone of Election Year

Thirty-Second Spot Shows People Laughing, But No Cars

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As politicians ramp up ad spending ahead of Nov. 5, Volkswagen of America is attempting to offer TV watchers across the country a foil to the nastiness and mud-slinging.

The carmaker has released a special spot tied to the presidential race which it says will "deliver a lighthearted break" from the election cycle. The commercial is by VW's agency Deutsch, Los Angeles, and in a highly unusual move in the world of auto advertising, the ad doesn't show a single car, let alone depict the usual product shots or typical performance claims that most car ads do.

Instead, over the course of the 30-second commercial -- which is called "Smiles" -- all we see is a selection of random people, from babies to senior citizens, of all different nationalities, laughing and smiling. The spot closes with the following message: "It's not the miles, it's how you live them. That's the power of German engineering."

Volkswagen said it's buying air time for the commercial to run during presidential debates and more lighthearted election programming such as Comedy Central's Indecision coverage, along with the season premieres of network sitcoms.

In a statement, the carmaker said the folks who appear in the ad "embody the Volkswagen spirit of positivity through laughter." Said Kevin Mayer, VP-marketing at Volkswagen of America: "'Smiles' is a creative representation of the pure fun and positivity that have defined the Volkswagen brand and vehicles for decades. We've had a tremendous year in 2012 and the campaign is a celebration of the unique customer experience that we believe continues to draw consumers in to the brand."

The ad is also being used to drive consumers to a new platform, called "Why VW," where the automaker is inviting stories from VW owners and those who are passionate about the brand as a way to helping to differentiate itself from the competition.

What do you think? Does the spot grab your attention and provide a welcome change to election ads? Or does the lack of product shown in the ads seem befuddling and detract from the VW brand?

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