Ad Report Card: Jerks for Jetta

One can assume that an ad campaign that lasts a long time stays on the air because it’s working: People are responding to it somehow. If that’s true, I’m curious what it is that people like about certain ads for the Volkswagen Jetta, which still seem to be in heavy rotation months after their debut. Particularly puzzling is a spot highlighting a Jetta windows feature (see it here via and a similarly themed one in which a guy is eager to tell his buddy about his new car (viewable here).

The Ads: In the spot that seems to be the most frequently aired, a young man reading his Jetta manual emits a dudelike “Whoa” and dashes inside to find his significant other. She’s in her bathrobe, painting her toenails, but he hardly notices and drags her to the driveway. “Watch this,” he says, like the little boy he remains at heart. He puts the key into the Jetta’s door and turns it, and the windows slide down. He turns, with a big grin and a “Whoo!” to see how impressed his ladyfriend must be. Bored and exasperated, she has already gone inside.

The other spot begins with a maniacally grinning new Jetta owner ringing the buzzer of his pal Cooper, who lives in a dingy-looking apartment building. The time is 7:04 a.m., and we can guess that Cooper doesn’t generally get up early. The Jetta owner blows his horn. Cooper struggles to the window, and the car owner spreads his arms triumphantly. Cooper immediately retreats in a show of decisive indifference. But the Jetta guy keeps calling his name, perhaps not understanding that Cooper is not impressed.

What They’re Trying To Say: The Jetta and its features are so cool that car owners simply cannot control themselves in expressing their satisfaction and, indeed, their awe. 

What They’re Actually Saying: But wait. If the Jetta is that great, then how come the reaction of non-Jetta-owners seems to be so icily neutral? How come the people who do appreciate what the Jetta has to offer seem like such jerks, unaware that their enthusiasms are trivial to the wider swath of the population that is capable of some perspective on these matters? Are these Jetta owners suckers to be so ga-ga? And were they always insufferable, or did they become so only upon purchase of a Jetta?

It’s tough to come with a fresh angle in a car commercials, and Volkswagen has done some pretty interesting things with ads for its other models in recent year. But with these Jetta spots, I have to side with the unimpressed and give the ads a D.