VW China’s spot last year introducing the new Beetle stood out from the thousands of other ads on Chinese television running at the same time. First of all, the production value was high. Savvy ad watchers could easily discern that this was a global production; homegrown ads don’t have this type of production value. But mostly, the creative was outstanding. Who doesn’t get a kick out of watching a bunch of cute old folk running around trying their hand at young people activities such as surfing, skateboarding, and head-banging at a punk show?
The spot was good. It was cute, it was memorable, and most importantly for marketers, it shared the brand’s voice.
Cut two a few months later during the sweaty and high caloric advertising orgy that is the Superbowl. One of the more praised ads from the commentators was Taco Bell’s “Viva Young” spot, which finds a crew of old-timers escaping their nursing home reality and embarking on a whirlwind of unbridled chaos. We’re treated to shots of old folks grinding at a club, getting inked, taunting innocent diners with a decrepit nipple, and carnal activities with young men in bathrooms.
Awfully familiar concepts…but goddamn it, this can’t be a rip-off, can it? Ad agencies NEVER recycle ideas! Aren’t rebellious elderly universally side-splitting, just like dancing babies and talking animals?