Noam Murro, United States. 2007. 90 seconds
Formerly available at www.night-driving.com. Found on www.youtube.com
The commercial is simple: A beautiful minimal song, borrowed from Cliff Martinez's lovely score for Solaris, is overlapped with a recording of Richard Burton reading a Dylan Thomas poem. These sounds are over images of a neon lit LA, in all its vast loneliness and graphically beautiful grime. There's no apparent narrative; just driving and the experience. Which is what the tagline is: "When was the last time you just went for a drive?"
The most effective ad campaigns (or the most memorable ones at least) are the one's that don't just show glossy images, but communicate a very specific message that addresses the belief system of its core audience. "Just Do It" and "Think Different" come to mind. Simon Sinek's Golden Circle theory illustrates this: His theory shows three circles, one inside the other. On the outside is "What," the middle circle is "How," and the inner circle, "Why." Sinek states that most traditional marketing and advertising goes from outside to inside the circle, but the most effective forms go inside to out. Like a religion, you hit the audience at what matters to them: What makes them anxious, or happy, or nervous, what racks their brain. Once you have their attention at their core, you then reveal how to meet their needs, and how your product will do just that.
This commercial is operating under Sinek's Golden Circle theory. Yes, it features the Volkswagen Golf, but that is a secondary feature. The first focus of this is what the tagline states: Do you just ever go for a drive? Explore the landscape and just roam, contemplating your thoughts, dreams, hopes, desires. The Golf is just a tool that will help you do just that. And by speaking to a core belief, and trying to inspire emotion, is this commercial then allowed to be more artistic. (The commercial has the added bonus of being shot in LA at night, which is the core of my high school social life once I got a car.)
That's the sort of beauty of advertising that I'm fascinated with: That with artistic effectiveness also comes commercial success. Win-win. It is a medium, similar to TV, where quality work almost seems to reap more rewards than quality work within the realm of feature films does.