Question: Sorry, but I'm bugging you with another song question. What can you tell me about the VW ad with the kids who drive to a party, take a look and then leave? Thanks. Laurel
Televisionary: Only that it's just the latest example of how commercials are often more innovative and interesting than many of the laugh-starved comedies and tepid dramas that separate them. I don't know about you, but when I find a 30-second ad more satisfying a viewing experience than 90 percent of what I see on the air these days, something's up.
And Volkswagen, I must say, has a track record for creating memorable spots. The one you're taken with, the "Milky Way" commercial for the automaker's Cabrio, is an absolutely beautiful piece of work. Featuring the haunting song "Pink Moon," from late British singer-songwriter Nick Drake's 1972 album of the same name, the ad tracks the nighttime progress of a quartet of twentysomethings driving their convertible under a sky dotted with stars so bright they could fall on the car at any moment.
It's a very brief story without any dialogue and none is needed: Kids go to party. Kids see and hear drunkards at party, decide to bail and continue down the starry road upon which we first found them riding.
Why did they leave? Maybe it was the usual drunken fools and "woo-woo" guys. Maybe it's a subtle nudge for young 'uns to choose non-alcoholic diversions. Or maybe they're headed off to, as my dad used to say, "spoon" on some dark lover's lane. It doesn't matter. Like VW's "Jung at Heart" New Orleans ad (which I wrote about last year), it's loaded with visual impact and hits all the right cornball, young-love buttons for saps like me.
And all you cynics? Yes, I've read Drake's song was about depression rather than romance; yes, I know the corporate-greed angle annoys the purists; and yes, I'm aware the ad's model-perfect specimens and the evenhanded diversity worthy of a Benetton ad may not be all that real-world. Don't care. The girl in the spot reaches up to touch the sky and I know just how she feels. Works for me.
I'm also aware that shooting a short, one-time ad is nothing compared to the task of creating a series that holds up week after week, but I'm saying TV's creative types could learn a little about visual storytelling from such efforts. And I'm obviously not alone, since I get plenty of questions from people more taken with the commercials than the shows, and sales of Drake's music have taken off since "Milky Way" started airing. Perhaps my employers oughta start running grids with ad schedules.
My, but I'm chatty this week. Enough out of me on that. Those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about can download and view the ad from VW's site.