We are bombarded by an average of 10,000 ads a day. Probably at least 9,995 of them we ignore. That’s everything from online banner ads to print and TV commercials. Friend, what makes you stop and look?

Anyone who’s known me for a long, long time knows I was a big fan of this routine below back in the day. So when I first saw this Volkswagen Jetta commercial it stopped me in my tracks.

Can’t Look Away

What makes this commercial so compelling? How did they get a clip from an old Gene Kelly movie inserted into a 21stcentury Jetta commercial? That’s some trick!

Take a look at “Backseat Dancer” before I tell you a bit more. (If you’re viewing in your email reader, the video will launch on YouTube.)

Backseat Dancer

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****. 133 ratings 48,658 views

Juxtaposition of incongruent images always draws the eye’s attention. A scene from an old movie inserted into a brand new commercial (this came out in last quarter) gets attention and fits that bill. It also gets a lot more attention because there’s a famous dead guy in it and some very clever use of the material.

The ad agency’s identified a major problem of their target audience to solve: getting adequate footroom in a back seat. Their solution – the backset dancer(s) – is highly unique and clever.

Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?

Reaction has been mixed. I’ve seen comments from some that they’re creeped out by famous dead people showing up in new commercials. Others, like me, marvel at the creativity. (And as I alluded to before, I’m a big Gene Kelly fan.) Some complain the commercial doesn’t show the Jetta’s other new features.

Remember, you can’t go after all your target markets with a broad and bland sales pitch to please everyone; folks will be bored if you try to show all of the product’s features. There’s an extensive series of commercials behind this “Great. For the Price of Good” campaign highlighting different features in the series’ other commercials, which you can see here.

And if you’d like to compare the ad agency’s version (Deutsch, Los Angeles, using Pigeon John’s song ‘The Bomb’) of Gene and Donald O’Connor in the Jetta with the original from Singin’ in the Rain, I’ve posted that for you, too. The clip below is of the full “Moses Supposes” song and dance. The specific sequence used in the Jetta commercial (where they’ve been re-clothed and re-shoed) is when they’re sitting on the edge of the desk in the middle of the song. Enjoy!

Gene Kelly & Donald O’ Connor – Moses Supposes

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* 2 ratings 256 views


“Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ball park. Aim for the company of immortals.”
~ David Ogilvy, Ogilvy & Mather, The ‘Pope of Advertising’