If you haven’t seen this video of a Volkswagen ad featuring and pint-size Darth Vader, then you’re one of the few people who didn’t watch the Super Bowl XLV this past Sunday. However, the Super Bowl wasn’t the only venue where the video aired. I first saw it on Facebook a few days before its debut on Super Bowl Sunday and didnt even realize it was a Super Bowl ad until I started reading about it after the game.
The fact that this ad and several others aired online BEFORE the game was no accident. Along with Volkswagen, Pepsi Max and Doritos posted their Super Bowl ads on Facebook, breaking a long tradition of keeping these ads a secret until game day.
Volkswagen made strategic use of social media in its campaign to ensure that the ad was widely viewed. In addition to posting it on Facebook, VW also posted the ad on its blog, as well as on its YouTube channel. It was also tweeted, and many messages were posted on Facebook. To date, the ad has been viewed over 18 million times since it was originally posted on YouTube a mere six days ago, on February 2, 2011. Interestingly, the pre-game showing of the ad did not negatively affect its popularity when it was aired during the second quarter. It was the third most popular ad, according to USA Today Ad Meter, with Bud Light and Doritos taking the number one and two spots respectively.
The six-year old actor who portrays the the pint-size Darth Vader is Max Page. Despite a heart condition that requires a pace maker, the little thespian has acted in several regional commercials and has a role on The Young and the Restless.
Even if I saw the other ads (no, I did not watch the Super Bowl), this one of a little Darth Vader, attempting to use the force to move various household items, including the family pet, without success until he encounters a Volkswagen Passat, would probably be my favorite. With only Darth Vader music playing in the background, not a single word is uttered by any of the characters in the ad, which is one reason I think it is so powerful. View it and judge for yourself.