The following comes with the caveat that VW produced the greatest ad ever a few years ago in the shape of Night Driving
This isn’t an especially bad advert as it goes if you watch it without the sounds off, but it is advertising something resolutely dull.
What elevates it to egregiousness is its use of God Only Knows, which is possibly the most beautiful song ever written on what’s possibly the best album ever written with some of the most sublime string and wind arrangements ever and the most stunningly perfect vocal ever recorded.
A blissed-out, ethereal, ingenuous love song written in the heady of days of mid 60s Californ-i-ay that not only speaks of one of the most evocative times in the world’s history but is recognised as one of the most stunning pieces of work ever created by human hands.
Somehow, then, I find it a tad hard to believe that Brian Wilson had in mind the Volkswagen Caddy when he was crafting this love song to love itself – so a pox on the houses of those people who decided to defile it with images of a sodding commercial vehicle from industrial Germany.
People may love their old camper vans, a vehicle most probably seen around the beaches of west coast America in the 60s, but that’s about as far as those emotional connections with cars go. They do not love modern day Caddy Maxis, Caravelles or Crafter Dropsides.
The emotional connection between man and vehicle is harder to define; harder to predict and harder to create. Scarcity, design, character, nostalgia, luck and context are all here. The old camper van had it, the old Beetle, the old Mini, the Porsche 944, the Alfasud, the Ursaab, the Citroen DS, early Land Rovers, the Dodge Charger, the Pontiac Trans-Am, the Jag E-Type, the Ferrari Dino and dozens of others.
Few modern-day equivalents do, for most of the reasons outlined above. It’s the difference between loving a first edition of The Great Gatsby and loving a copy of Katie Price’s new hagiography given away free with this month’s copy of Heat Magazine.
To suggest otherwise is just wrong-headed but to chuck a load of cash at this ad in an attempt to lend some reflected sheen is not just lazy, it’s virtually sacrilegious. What next? Waterloo Sunset playing over some loving shots of Toilet Duck being sprayed around a dirty lav? Johnny Cash singing Hurt in Halifax’s hellish radio station? Eno’s Ending (An Ascent) playing while Gio Compario bums a pig in the new Go Compare ads?
Whoever matched this ad to this song should spend 12 solid months driving around Romford in a modern VW van, hauling bags of animal feed in and out of it, listening solely to Talk Sport and staring at the latest dog-eared copy of The Sun with its dead-eyed celebs – until their soul locks itself into a small, dark room and thinks long and hard about what it did on the day it matched the most eye-wettingly beautiful noise ever created to one of the most boring devices in modern life, in an effort to encourage SME fleet managers on the M4 corridor to choose a a Volkswagen Crafter CR35 LWB 2.5 BlueTDI Luton instead of a Citroen Relay 35 2.2Hdi Luton Tailift.