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VW suicide bomber ad

by Steve Anderson

A guy pulls up in front of a café in a sporty little black VW. People chat, waiters scurry, a woman cuddles her baby. Cut to a medium shot. Holding his hand up, the driver, possibly Middle Eastern, slowly and deliberately pushes his thumb down on a detonation device, and there’s a deafening explosion. Despite the blast, the car remains intact. The tag line? “Polo. Small but tough.” If you were one of the 12 million viewers who saw this ad during the last month, chances are 1) that a friend sent it to you, 2) you sent it along to someone else, even if you found it offensive, and 3) you vaguely wondered about its origins. Would Volkswagen really make something so outrageous? No, it wouldn’t. While some companies eagerly court any exposure, Volkswagen was not pleased by the commercial, which was made on spec by two 30-something London-based creatives, Dan Brooks and Lee Ford, who work under the moniker LAD (or “Lee and Dan”). “We made it for ourselves,” explains Brooks. “Sometimes people talk about making something and never do it; we decided to do it even though it’s controversial.” While neither Brooks nor Ford will say how the 30-second clip ended up on the Internet, within days it was careening from desktop to desktop. It was blogged widely, and the hunt to uncover the makers was on. Once LAD was identified, angry executives from Volkswagen threatened to sue. And soon after that, the pair, flooded with inquiries, signed with Czar, a repping agency that hopes to capitalize on LAD’s skills and notoriety. While still a little jumpy about legal action — Brooks and Ford apologized and promised never to infringe on the VW brand again, and VW has refrained from legal action — they have new career options, and a lot of people have looked at the tough little Polo coupe for a minute or two. And so it goes in the upside-down world of viral marketing where bad is good and often it’s consumers making the ads instead of ad agencies

VW suicide bomber ad

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A fake ad for the Volkswagen Polo

from Small But Tough (2005)
Creator: Lee and Dan
Posted by Steve Anderson