With back-to-school in full swing, VW celebrates the beautiful chaos of family life

'Drive Bigger' spot from Johannes Leonardo is also a comment on country's current state of affairs

Published On
Sep 05, 2019

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Parents who are in the throes of back-to-school madness will surely identify with this beautiful, yet chaotic tale from Volkswagen. A new spot from Johannes Leonardo depicts four real families from across the country, from all walks of life, enduring the shared human experience of having to get a lot of butts out the door in the morning.

The alarms go off, family members raise their voices in Spanish or English to wake the younger ones, siblings fight over the bathroom, babies cry, pets steal scraps off the table, parents toss kids into seats and gear into the trunk. And no matter how taxing it is to rally everyone into the car and go, they all comfortably fit into VW’s Atlas. 

The endline reads, “There’s room for everyone.”

The spot’s soundtrack is Johnny Cash’s “These are my people,” which appeared on the musician’s tribute album, “America: A 200-Year Salute in Story and Song.”

These are my people this is the land where my forefathers lie
These are my people in brotherhood we're heirs of a creed to live by
A creed that proclaims that by loved ones’ blood stains
This is my land and these are my people 
These are my people and their cities were raised by hard working hands
And their faces to tell that they're holding on well
To this their land yes these are my people
These are my people… 

According to Johannes Leonardo ECD Jimm Lasser, the ad upholds VW’s longstanding reputation as being “the people’s car." While VW qualities of being “practical, versatile, dependable and safe” speak to that, so does the spot’s message. Though the four families in the ad are quite different, they're united in the challenge of tackling the morning routine. “In those moments, we felt it was a good opportunity to show how these families were more alike and unified than different.”

With all the elements combined, the spot, directed by big-screen talent John Hillcoat ("The Road"), clearly has a double meaning. While certainly the Atlas can easily accommodate families of six and more, the spot ad relays a broader message that speaks to the current state of affairs in the U.S. where, under the Trump administration’s immigration policies, "room for everyone" isn't necessarily the case. 

The idea dovetails with Volkswagen “Drive Bigger” brand platform that debuted in June, in which the automaker’s commitment to working for a “larger purpose.” Its sights have primarily been set on correcting its course post-emissions scandal, but it appears that with this ad, VW, like many other big brands, are more willing to make a statement on larger political issues. 

VW "create[s] vehicles for the greater good and seek to promote a value system which stands in opposition to the self interest which pervades the world today," Lasser says. "The inclusivity of the Atlas is an example of how VW provides drivers with a product, and a mindset that aspires for something more.”