by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki) In the new ad for the VW Tiguan, Volkswagen gives us a warm-hearted chuckle with a vignette that is all about the car, but doesn’t focus upon features such as power or speed.

Do you remember your first car? Make, model, colour and year? I have no doubt you do (in my case, I can even recall the smell). Cars are such a part of our lives and stories. When thinking back, we associate them with specific times in our lives and memory-making days. Like going on a first date, battling through the traffic to our first job, or going on holiday without our parents for the first time.

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It’s no wonder that people become emotionally attached to certain motoring brands. For this reason, it makes sense that marketing a car is not always as much about the features of the vehicle, but the lifestyle and story that goes with the brand. VW understands this well, and its agencies have made a charming TV spot that plugs directly into the understanding of how cars feature as a part of our narrative. The casting for this ad is spot on, and the commercial features a young star who will steal your heart with her wide-eyed performance. Part of a dual execution for Australia and South Africa, although made by Australian agencies, Ogilvy Cape Town has shortened it slightly and localised it for our market.

The TVC starts with an exterior shot of a white VW Tiguan driving down a suburban road, then cuts to the interior to reveal a married couple. “Goldie no. 7. She’ll never know the difference,” says the woman, holding up a plastic bag with a goldfish swimming in it. The camera cuts to the rear, where their daughter is sitting. Clearly, her presence has been forgotten by her parents. Her face says it all: her jaw drops as her father chuckles in agreement.

The next scene — another time — Mom is looking at a papier-mâché object and Dad bursts out laughing. “Seriously, though. What is this?” she jokes and, on the back seat, the little girl looks like she might burst into tears. How could they not love the beautiful thing she made for them?

The scene that follows is Dad arriving at his workplace parking garage, and — oh dear, the little girl has been forgotten again, in the back seat.

Another day, and the couple are driving along like a young couple on a date — Dad is beatboxing and Mum is humming. The little girl is horrified at the ‘uncoolness’ of her parents.

The final straw

The final straw for the little girl comes when her parents stop to buy ice cream: Dad arrives at the car and hands Mom a cone, then takes a lick of his own. The big-eyed little girl can stand it no longer. “Ag!” she says in exasperation, and her parents turn around in shock. The little girl just glowers.

The payoff line is “It’s easy to forget you’re in a family car.”

VW recently launched a new model of the Tiguan, and this ad is part of a campaign that includes a nine-day event at Montecasino (on this week) called “VW Adventure World”. Created by Mbongiworks, the event features a snow slope and a climbing wall to keep the kids occupied, while parents may look at the various VW Tiguan models.

The Tiguan was previously marketed more to the ‘off-road’ customer, focusing upon its four-wheel drive capabilities, road handling and so on. This is a change in tack, but not an unlikely one, as people are now buying SUVs for taking kids to school and visiting the mall. The added interior space and the flexibility to use the car for vacations means that it has replaced the station wagon as a family car in real-world suburbia.

The TV commercial hits the target, without even mentioning those features. This TVC is all about making a solid emotional connection, but will appeal to families and city slickers alike. Well done for a commercial that sells the car without selling the features, for a car commercial that’s all about the story. But that’s VW for you. It’s been telling us memorable stories for a long time now, with ads that are as much a part of our lives as the cars it retails.

Now I just have to see if I can fit a visit to Montecasino into my schedule… I’m dying to try that snow slope!


Ad agency: DDB Sydney, Ogilvy & Mather Sydney (Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town for localisation)
Art director: Mandy Whatson
Producer: Martin Aspinall
Production company: The Sweet Shop
Director: Noah Marshall


Oresti PatriciosAd of the Week, published on MarkLives every Wednesday, is penned by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki), the CEO of Ornico, a Brand Intelligence® firm that focuses on media, reputation and brand research. If you are involved in making advertising that is smart, funny and/or engaging, please let Oresti know about it at

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