Volkswagen's Elton John Tops Darth Vader

The force was with Volkswagen at the beginning of 2011 with its widely lauded Super Bowl spot, but the automaker is ending the year with even more of a rocket. A current VW spot poking fun at what happens when you don’t know the lyrics is even more entertaining than the ad with the mini-Darth Vader that was so buzzed about on Super Bowl Sunday.

The latest spot -- also for the Passt -- is hilarious and oh-so-relatable. And who would fast-forward through an Elton John triumph?

On Super Bowl Sunday, VW ran the exceedingly cute and endearing Darth Vader spot, where a young kid dressed as the “Star Wars” villain tried to use Jedi powers to mindmeld the treadmill to start, the dog to rise, a sandwich to move across the counter, etc.

Unsuccessful, the kid becomes dejected. But, gives his spell-casting one more try, looking to get a Passat to start in the driveway.

About to fail again, Dad comes to the rescue by clicking an auto-start from inside the house. "Darth" is amazed and impressed with himself.



Adweek recently named the 60-second ad from Deutsch L.A. as the best commercial of 2011. And, it referred to it as “one of the great crowd-pleasing TV ads of all time."

If so, VW will have a significant challenge to outdo itself this February should it return to the big game.

Knowing that, it should have saved its stellar spot running now that hits home to all the bold souls who, when unable to conjure up the words for a beloved song, don’t stop to wonder -- but solider on and just happily make them up.

The spot is a tribute to those who don’t know the third lines to Billy Joel’s “Don’t Go Changing” or Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line.” Who love a Rihanna or Lady Gaga smash, but would have an easier time climbing Everest than nailing the chorus.

It also pays respects to those who bellow in the shower, while thinking 75,000 crazed fans are in front of them waving cell phones.

In the spot, person after person butchers a line in the chorus of Elton John’s 1972 version of “Rocket Man" -- where it's "burning" something that rhymes with cone.

A store clerk offers up “burning up this useless telephone.” A waitress: “burning up the room with cheap cologne.” There are motor homes and all alones.

Cut to a shot of a shampooed man in the shower raising his fists and blasting out the song, but there's an implication he doesn’t know the lyrics either. He’s followed by a happy couple in a car singing along happily with a similar lack of knowledge.

Ah, but the VW Passat’s sterling sound system comes to the rescue. It's clear enough to finally solve the mystery: “burning out his fuse up here alone.”

The couple are relieved and the man says wryly: “I told you it wasn’t provolone."

Quick guess: easily 90% of viewers didn't know the words either, but appreciate -- and laugh at -- the education. Rest assured, they’ll test their friends and show off.

So, there's a humorous ad with a public service element that inspires social media? Hard to beat.

2 comments about "Volkswagen's Elton John Tops Darth Vader ".
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  1. Mark Tenenbaum from Rent-A-Center, Inc., December 13, 2011 at 5:15 p.m.

    One reason people won't know the 3rd line of the Billy Joel song you reference is because the song's real name is "Just the Way You Are!"

  2. Chuck Lantz from, network, December 13, 2011 at 5:39 p.m.

    Nice catch Mark.

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