Thank you Volkswagen… not for your cars, but for your ads

Nick Drake

Watching network TV for the first time in a while has been revelatory… not because anything I’ve watched has been spectacular, but because I forgot how much I enjoy a good commercial.  I would imagine about 99.2% of most ads on TV are pure crap… but it’s that 0.8% that can make all the difference.  Isn’t that what the Super Bowl is really about these days?

One commercial has always held a very warm place in my heart.  I’m not sure when it came out (probably 2000), but it is a Volkswagen Cabrio commercial with a group of four teens driving through a summer night on their way to a party.  When they arrive, the party is raging… they share a few glances at one another then continue to drive.  What is so spectacular about this particular ad is the emotion a wordless piece of art can evoke… with the right choice of song.

In the case of this one minute slice of perfection, the sense of freedom is evoked… an open top car… an open road… and a beautiful night with the people you love the most.  Those nights are few and far between… and being young is an even rarer thing.  For me, it was the song.

In an age of Shazam and immediate downloading, this would have been easy to sort… but I had to dig around a bit until I found out who was playing that amazing track.  That was how I discovered Nick Drake.  (obviously I didn’t discover him to the world… it was my personal discovery… you know what I mean)  The track was Pink Moon, from his 1972 third album of the same name, Pink Moon.  From there, I ended up learning everything I could about this now deceased, sad and quiet young singer/songwriter… and having his music opened up for me by Volkwagen of all things blew me away.

For that… I must say, thank you Volkswagen.  Not for your cars… but for your ads.  Whether it was the Pink Moon commercial, the Mr. Blue Sky commercial, or the fantastic little Darth Vader commercial.  It’s nice to know that art can, and does, persist in an overly profit driven and artless enterprise.

Enjoy the ad that helped shape me in unintended ways…

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