The latest spot by DDB Paris for Volkswagen, "The Others," reminds us of something we can attest to daily: Hell is other people.
Guided by an amicable narrator and a few folksy notes, we're treated to a variety of behaviors we hate while driving: Those "others" who apply makeup, drive too fast, drive too slow, have backseat sex, park poorly, promenade across the pavement, block roads, honk generously, steal parking, ride bikes, ride motorcycles.
All those others who aren't you.
The ad's got a grainy Wonder Years feel, and closes with the releasing of balloons from a car situated just in front of us. A bit twee for our taste, smug in its charm.
Fun American driver's ed fact: The only things legally allowed to fly out of a moving car are water and feathers. This is apparently to absolve vehicles hauling chickens; they can't help shedding in the wind.
Anyway, balloons are neither, but the image itself is very Instagram, back when we liked those moody, oversaturated aesthetics. (Not to be trite! These effects are authentically sourced: Wanda directors Si & Ad shot the piece on 16-millimeter film. Look, Mom, no filters!)
"The Others" promotes Volkswagen's IQ.Drive, an umbrella brand for a passel of intelligent driver assistance technologies—the ultimate equalizer for the unpredictable chaos of others' behavior, as well as our own. But we'd perhaps have fallen into deeper thrall if it hadn't memorably been done before.
In 2017, Audi U.K. and BBH London gave us "The Clowns." It featured silly, stupid clowns engaging in all manner of driver-side buffoonery, and also used a kiss of nostalgia for emotional effect.
Instead of using graininess and a narrator, though, it went for a soundtrack: Judy Collins singing "Send in the Clowns," of course, whose lyrics make VW's same point in a more poignant way: "Send in the clowns … don't bother, they're here."
It's a lesson, perhaps, in trusting your audience … and checking for precedence. Though to be fair, an old song almost always does the heavy emotional lifting, and it's perhaps to DDB's credit that it resisted paying a bloated licensing fee and put its copywriters to work instead.
Agency: DDB Paris
ECD: Alexander Kalchev
Art Director: Mickaël Jacquemin
Copywriter: Benoît Oulhen
Strategic planning: Loïc Morando
Agency account managers: Alban Callet, Axel Renaudin, Coralie Bouillier, Maxime
Brafman et Léa Villani
Head of TV Production: Corinne Persch
TV Producer: Johanna Lubin
Post-producer: Jérome Deplatière
Volkswagen account managers: Pierre Boutin, Ghislain Laffite, Juan-Manuel Caparros,
Alexandra Tacconi and Mathilde Raulin
Production Company: Wanda
Director: Si & Ad
DOP: Barry Ackroyd
Producer: Antoine Bagot
Editing: Paul Watts
Music supervisor: Marine Cremer
Sound production: The