Super Bowl Ads: How Beetles Inspire Dogs to Get in Shape

For some people, scrutinizing the Super Bowl ads is just as much (or more) fun than watching the game itself. This week, I'll be previewing the auto industry's advertising campaigns scheduled to air during the game.

As we look ahead to the big game on Feb. 5, I can't help but wonder: Which automakers will hit paydirt with their high-priced Super Bowl ads, and which automakers will fumble at the goal line?

After watching an extended preview of Volkswagen's Super Bowl, I think VW might do both.

Volkswagen's second-quarter spot -- titled "The Dog Strikes Back" -- is the story "of an adorable dog named Bolt who is inspired to whip himself into shape by the power and performance of the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle," according to Volkswagen of America Inc.

But that's only half the story. Check out this extended preview of VW's gameday ad:


I'll let Volkswagen explain the "Star Wars" thing.

"The unexpected final moments are a sly wink toward the 'Star Wars' theme of Volkswagen's 2011 Game Day commercial 'The Force,' which became a pop culture phenomenon and has nearly 50 million views on YouTube to date," VW explained.

"The theme of the commercial is 'Back -- and better than ever,' which illustrates the success and momentum that the Volkswagen brand is enjoying in the U.S."

I can't argue the fact that Volkswagen is enjoying success in the United States. Earlier this week, VW reported a staggering 47.9% year-over-year increase in U.S. sales -- its best January in more than three decades.

But I'm not sold on the "Star Wars" reference. And since I didn't remember that VW featured a "Star Wars" theme in its 2011 Super Bowl commercial, the transition from the dog getting in shape to the weirdos in the "Star Wars" bar caught me by surprise.

My guess is other non-hip viewers such as myself might have the same reaction, but I could be wrong.

With that said, everybody -- including me -- loves commercials with cute animals, and I'm now a big fan of Bolt the dog. (It must have taken enormous willpower to not eat those kibbles!)

To be fair, Volkswagen launched its 2012 Super Bowl ad campaign with an online teaser ( "The Bark Side") that featured a choir of dogs barking along to composer John Williams's "Imperial March" (which was used in last year's VW Super Bowl ad).

"We believe this spot underscores the Volkswagen brand's unmatched advertising legacy," said Mike Sheldon, CEO, Deutsch LA, Volkswagen's ad agency.

"It manages to highlight the redesign and performance of the Beetle with the lighthearted touches that viewers expect from the VW brand."

One last note: "The Bark Side" already has garnered more than 10 million views on YouTube, so what the heck do I know?

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