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This harrowing 90-second VW ad perfectly captures the stress and chaos of families

The carmaker uses the beautiful disaster of day-to-day life to market the new Atlas SUV.

This harrowing 90-second VW ad perfectly captures the stress and chaos of families

We all have those days. As parents. As kids. As sisters. As brothers. George Santayana once wrote, “The family is one of nature’s masterpieces,” but it can also be a complete and utter sh*tshow. In its newest ad, Volkswagen uses it as a marketing tool.

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Created by agency Johannes Leonardo and directed by John Hillcoat (The Road), the spot takes us into four American families, from all different backgrounds, going through their morning routine. The rushing, the brushing, the hustle and bustle, set to Johnny Cash’s “These Are My People.” Of course it all ends inside a VW Atlas SUV.

The slow Cash soundtrack set against the familial bedlam may seem counterintuitive but also seems to shine a spotlight on the pace of life being lived right in our face. It’s not the first time Cash has been used in a spot about the idiosyncrasy of families—Sofia Coppola did it for The Gap back in 2014 with the Man in Black’s “I Got Stripes.”

Johannes Leonardo executive creative director Jimm Lasser says it’s no coincidence that these families speak different languages, live in different parts of the country, and yet share a distinct commonality. The tagline, “There’s room for everyone,” is meant to symbolize more than legroom.

“We felt it timely to remind us all how much we have in common,” says Lasser. “For the spot, we cast four real families, which brought a layer of authenticity and demonstrated those shared moments of morning chaos that most can identify with—packing up and loading in. In those moments, we felt it was a good opportunity to show the how these families were more alike and unified than different.”

Speaking of different, whether these AM whirlwinds hit close to your own home or you live alone and are horrified by them, at least we can all be thankful for a car ad that uses the lives we live instead of yet another sweeping interior car shot as it steers through Sonoma.

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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