VW taps 'Force' for Passat in commercial sequels

VW taps 'Force' for Passat in commercial sequels

September 17th, 2011 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

A boyish Darth Vader appears in Volkswagen's new ads for the Passat.

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VW PASSAT

Volkswagen's base 2012 Passat starts at $19,995, according to the automaker.

Volkswagen plans to unveil four commercials starting next week for the launch of its Chattanooga-made Passat, including one in which the automaker will try to gain more mileage out of "The Force."

"It got 42 million YouTube views," said Mark Gillies of VW of America about the earlier Super Bowl commercial featuring a mini Darth Vader who thinks he's using The Force from the Star Wars films to start the car.

The first ad is expected to start running Monday with three more to air in late September and October, he said.

The launch campaign for the all-new Passat will involve TV, national print publications, Internet ads and radio commercials, Gillies said.

VW of America's product and technology manager wouldn't say how much the carmaker is spending on the latest campaign but he said, "It's a big spend for us."

Gillies said the midsize sedan is fundamental to the carmaker's goal of nearly tripling U.S. sales of VW and Audi vehicles to a million units by 2018.

Brandy Schaffels, TrueCar.com's senior editor, said the Passat is an important vehicle for VW.

"They're investing in the American marketplace," she said, citing the $1 billion Chattanooga assembly plant that started producing cars in April.

Gilllies said one commercial will dwell on the Passat's clean diesel engine. VW says its TDI version gets up to 43 mpg on the highway.

Another commercial is based around safety, Gillies said. The insurance industry's research group, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, rated the Passat as its top safety pick in the car's segment. Another ad will feature the car's Fender audio system, Gillies said.

"They're actually pretty good," he said. "They're witty."

VW will air the commercials during prime time, NFL games and the World Series, Gillies said.

Ron Kwiatkowski, new vehicle sales manager for Village Volkswagen in Chattanooga, said Friday the dealership had four Passats in the lot for buyers and more are on the way. The dealership presold about 20 of the cars.

Jeff Adams, a salesman for Al Johnson Volkswagen in Dalton, Ga., said Friday it has two demonstration models and one of the base cars.

He said the dealership had presold seven Passats.

"We're expecting some more any day," Adams said.