Every brand is looking to win the loyalty of the virtual generation these days. The latest bid comes from Volkswagen South Africa, whose new “Speed Racer”-esque, NFT-littered spot is a far cry from Beetle nostalgia.
“Game On” revamps the streets of Johannesburg as a techy metropolis filled with video game adventure and mayhem. VW’s spot highlights the automaker's new IQ.Drive tech, its version of automated driving assistance which Coleman likened to an automotive “cheat code” in a statement on the video’s inspirations. It was directed by Patriot Films’ Sam Coleman, who was also responsible for footwear brand On’s Olympic inspiration story.
Perhaps a glimpse into the future of digitized travel, a woman hops into the driver’s seat of a VW Polo and is presented with a selection of avatars to choose as her driver. She shuffles through a few, trying them on like the 2022 version of “Clueless,” and settles on a self outfitted in chic space buns and a graphic jumpsuit, an upgrade from her original grey hoodie.
A normal traffic stop becomes the starting line of a racetrack, where other pixellated folk rev their engines and zoom down a neon-lit highway rife with obstacles, virtual coins and all manner of futuristic signage. Local South African group Polycat Animation headed the thrilling CG design, which, according to a statement from Coleman, was first captured live in the Johannesburg streets before getting gamified.
The spot also features a bumping soundtrack from South African composers Field and singer Moonchild Sanelly, whose development of the self-named genre “Future Ghetto Punk” has led to collaborations with Beyoncé, Gorillaz and Major Lazer.
“What excited me was the opportunity to create a Johannesburg that hasn’t been seen before, but I didn’t want to lose what Joburg is all about,” said Coleman in a statement. “It was about layering this futuristic video game world over Jozi’s existing bones so that people would recognise the characters, landmarks and places. People love this city.”
Volkswagen South Africa tweeted clues over the course of five days for fans to scour the ad and locate NFTs hidden in the imagery. Each day, 20 non-fungible tokens were up for grabs and mintable on OpenSea, with a few winners scoring prizes like a PS5 console alongside the virtual asset. The NFT integration was created through a partnership between Ogilvy and MetaLabsAfrica, claiming to be the world’s first commercial embedded with bespoke NFTs.