Message Evaluation #5
The example I chose to evaluate for the contemporary cultural product advertisement is the famous commercial produced by the well- known automobile company Volkswagen. The video is called “The Force” and they are advertising one of their cars. I believe this is a great example of “good” propaganda.
The term propaganda is “information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view”. Another definition I found for propaganda is “The organized attempt through communication to affect belief or action or inculcate attitudes in a large audience in ways that circumvent or suppress an individual’s adequately informed, rational, reflective judgment” (Marlin, pg6). Personally, I think most if not all advertisers use some sort of propaganda to help steer or influence the audience or viewers in the direction that helps get their point of view across. I think propaganda can be both good as well as bad depending on the advertiser’s discretion.
To begin, I noticed that this commercial effectively uses many propaganda techniques that are also used in many other commercials as well as in a lot of political campaigns we often see all the time on TV. The commercial uses the Star Wars brand to sell its product. The little boy in the commercial is wearing clothing that closely resembles Darth Vader’s clothing. Also, during the entire commercial I noticed that the music from the Star Wars movie is playing in the background. This influences the audience to buy Volkswagen cars because of this association with the movie Star Wars. To add, Star Wars is a film that a lot of our parents grew up on and remember. Therefore, I believe that they were trying to target a mid to older audience that grew up with the movie.
The commercial also uses humor to attract its audience into buying the car. For example, I thought it was really humorous when the father came home from a long day’s work and opened his arms to try and get a hug from his son. Instead, the little boy waves the father off and runs to the car as if he has something more important he’s trying to do. Like me, many people enjoy commercials that make them laugh and smile. In fact, many people watch the Super Bowl just to watch the humorous commercials. I mean honestly, that’s why most people even watch the Super Bowl! If this were not true, then the ratings wouldn’t be as high as they are every year during this event.
Throughout the commercial it is shown that the little boys tries to mimic the movie Star Wars by trying to use “the force”, which sadly doesn’t work in his favor until his father gets home. When the father notices his son standing in front of his Volkswagen trying to use “the force” to make it turn on, he looks at his wife and then pushes the automatic start button on his keys. The little boy, finally successfully using “the force” to turn on the headlights, provides and gives this humor that makes the commercial very memorable to the audience. To me this is a good example of propaganda! I feel as if the commercial was trying to insist that “The force” would be with whoever purchases or uses a Volkswagen.
Also used in this commercial is a slogan. During the final seconds of the commercial, the words “Das Auto” along with a Volkswagen sign appear. “Das Auto” is German for “the car”, so that people know exactly what company and for what product the commercial is intended for. Also, the slogan is short, simple, easy to memorize, and above all I think it is unique because it is in a language other than English. This means that non-German speakers, such as myself, are more likely to remember it. They try to make the slogan stick in the mind of the viewers who just may or may not remember this commercial the next time they go out looking to buy a car. Another technique used in the commercial is the use of using “plain folks” or everyday average looking people. The commercial depicts a typical middle- class American family, with a cute child and of course a lazy dog! However, I think this is brilliant because many people can relate to the American family in this video, making the commercial seem much more relevant to the viewers’ own lives. I believe it makes the commercial more realistic. I also believe that centering the commercial on a young innocent child is a very powerful tool. I say this because when most people see young children their defense mechanisms are automatically lowered. In conclusion, by incorporating laughter and happiness into their commercial, I believe Volkswagen hopes to associate this pleasure with their product. Overall I think this commercial was very effective and I would not change a thing. Good use of propaganda in my opinion.
BY Juan Sanchez