VW Passat: How a single spot can create a social phenomenon

Principal authors: Joe Feldman, Deutsch Inc; Jane Dorsett, Lowe and Partners


This is a paper that describes a social phenomenon. How one idea created an indelible story, delivering an infectious creative, with enduring charm and appeal: The Force.

It is the story of a single 30 second TV ad, which initially aired just once at the US Super Bowl in February 20111, to launch the new VW Passat: a car that would not be available for a further 6 months.

It became the most viewed video ad globally in 2011, with over 50 million views, and when we have shown the irrefutable evidence of its success; we will ask you to consider whether it is feasible that The Force could have accounted for just 4% of the sales uplift seen at launch, in order to deliver a return on marketing investment.

And what's more … we will show how although we started out intending to drive viral engagement and sell cars, we ended up doing so much more – something unexpected: building awareness of paediatric medical needs due to our Mini Darth Vader, Max.