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By Published on .

THE CAR IS THE STAR; THAT MUST BE ONE OF THE OLD-est axioms of automobile advertising, dating back possibly to the Model T. But four spots for Volkswagen's U.K. dealers take a detour. In place of the usual lens lingering lovingly over gleaming chrome and hand-polished bodywork, not to mention the requisite yawn-cam that tracks the speeding car around the winding, leaf-strewn, deserted country road, here we have what appears to be a Super 8 following the antics of a miniature toy car, propelled around improvised sets by a human arm.

Never has so little been lavished so amateurishly in the cause of cheap transit. Indeed, as the hand-scrawled titles of the opening spot point out: "Most car commercials cost a fortune. This one didn't. It cost the same as it does to service a new VW Golf. Nothing."

While British Airways spent a couple of million dollars wrapping up a rock, BMP DDB Needham, London, claims that its four commercials didn't cost a dime, with everyone from the director (Mick Rudman-

Joe Pytka wasn't available, ha ha) to the owner of the studio-actually a nearby diner called Mickey's cafe-providing their services gratis.

It shows. "Africa," announces the opening title of one spot as our tiny vehicle struggles through the inch-high blades of grass on the director's back lawn. A watering can masquerades as an elephant, a coiled hose camps it up as a snake. It's like your kids staging "Jurassic Park" with plastic dinosaurs, only dumber. In another spot a picture postcard provides the exotic location, while a bikini-clad Barbie clone fills in for the beautiful women and a quick spin around a toilet seat serves for the dangerous stunts. It's not Hollywood. It's not even Troma Films.

When copywriter Nick Gill and art director Tony Davidson first came up with the idea of making a free commercial, they rejected the wacky home video genre in favor of something less grown-up. "We were going to have silly noises going 'Nnnnnnyrrrrrrr,'" says Gill, making the sound of a kid doing a car engine, "but we decided that would be a bit obtrusive." Instead the soundtrack is a bouncy, ingratiatingly repulsive mallet melody by Spike Jones, that musical nut of yesteryear. A client committee initially rejected the campaign on the grounds that it did not believe the commercials could be made for abso-

lutely nothing. Presumably, they changed their minds when they saw the final cut, which was no doubt made with an X-Acto knife and Scotch tape.

Bill Bernbach would probably have dug these lemons, not least for their clutterbusting self-deprecation. The client is happy, and word is they're even

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