You've Gotta Be Cruel to Be Kind

Volkswagen Encourages 'Blatant Acts of Road Joy'

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Artist: Smog
Song: "The Well"
Purchase: Smog - A River Ain't Too Much to Love - The Well
Artist: The Alexandria Quartet
Song: "Into the Light"
Artist: Death Cab for Cutie
Song: "Your Heart Is an Empty Room"
Purchase: Death Cab for Cutie - Plans - Your Heart Is an Empty Room
Marketer: Volkswagen
Agency: Crispin, Porter + Bogusky
One night in college, some friends and I decided that it'd be funny to harass people with compliments. While driving in my car, we picked bystanders walking on the sidewalk and hurled invectives at them like "I like your hair!" or "That's a very nice dog!" as we giggled at our stupid irony.

With its latest series of Crispin, Porter + Bogusky spots, Volkswagen seems to have a similar idea. Featuring voiceovers that sound a lot like Alec Baldwin, the German auto company implores consumers to commit random acts of vehicular kindness to win a car (yes, this contains its own irony). To help get us all gooey about being nice to one another, Crispin has licensed indie-ish songs from Death Cab for Cutie, The Alexandria Quartet and Smog.

It's a hard to make out Ben Gibbard in the "Bubble Brigade" ad, but he's mumbling, "Home's face: how it ages when you're away / Spring blooms and you find the love that's true" as young guys blow bubbles in a traffic jam. Smog's "The Well" is stripped of lyrics, but the repeating guitar figure and persistent hi-hat help build tension as a young man decides whether to let a woman have his parking spot (he does). Likewise, The Alexandria Quartet's noisy "Into the Light" makes a free carwash look like something Jason Bourne might do when he's out of bullets to dodge.

With or without words, these songs are really just snazzy backdrops for kids taking philanthropy into their own hands. Maybe they're not throwing their goodwill like eggs, but we all probably had the same tunes on in our cars.
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