Who doesn’t want to be Darth Vader? In May of 1977, I was just like every other seven year old in America wanting to be just like Darth Vader and use the force to control all my toys. During the 2011 Super Bowl, Volkswagen made a commercial that made my dream of 35 years come true. In this commercial, a young boy pretending to be Darth Vader, storms down the hall, attempting to use “the force” to move a treadmill without avail. After many fruitless attempts at controlling everything inside the house, his last attempt is a success due in part to his dad’s new Volkswagen Passat, which has a remote start on his key.
The young boy runs past his father, to the front of the car to use the force. He aims his hand toward the car and to the child’s astonishment the force, has finally worked. The rhetorical techniques of logos, ethos and pathos are present and are there to persuade the intended audience. First of all, the advertisement relies on an appeal to reason for its basis. This commercial was created to target an audience that can recognize Darth Vader and Volkswagens.
Star Wars references are deeply embedded in our popular culture and it would be safe to say most Americans are aware of phrases that have become part of the popular lexicon, for example “May the Force be with You”. This commercial appeal to most people because of the fact that every parent enjoys seeing their child uses their imagination and creativity. It also shows his father in the end playing along, amazing his son. Through the commercial Volkswagen recalls a childlike innocence about the car making it suitable for a family. Secondly, Volkswagen brings in an appeal to credibility to convince the advertisement’s viewers.
Darth Vader is known throughout the world as one of the most recognized villains including his infamous death-march music. This commercial would not be same if an adult was used instead of a child to play the part of Darth Vader. Volkswagen uses the popularity of the super bowl commercials to convey the fact that they made the same car with the quality of Volkswagen in an all new design for the 2011 model year. By using both parent in the commercial, Volkswagen established that the Passat is a family car and convinces the audiences to purchase the new car.
Volkswagen’s final appeal is to emotions to make the consumer want to believe that purchasing a new Passat can give you the power of the force. In addition to the imagery of Darth Vader, the music of Star Wars is easily recognized around the world. The death-march music gives the audience something to remember the commercial by over any other commercial shown on that day. In addition, in the final scene when the father turns the car on and the child thinks he has used the force, this ties the entire scene together and leaves a lasting impression of the commercial with the audience.
The main point of this commercial is to sell the new Volkswagen Passat. The use of a child pretending to be Darth Vader evokes an emotional appeal to innocence. As does the use of the all American family household, a stay at home mother and a father who after a long day still has time to play with his son. Also in the commercial, the minimal use of dialog and the use of music convey a simple yet memorable message to its audience. In conclusion, Volkswagen was able to successfully use rhetoric to make a funny and witty ad that appealed to a mass audience and sends a clear message to purchase a new car and you too can use the force.
Courtney from Study Moose
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