VW ‘Slowmercial’ Designed to Catch Ad-Skippers [VIDEO]


Why do we pay for services like DVR and Ti-Vo? That’s easy enough, there’s two basic reasons that apply to just about everyone who has the features. First, it frees you from slavery to programming. We all have our shows, and we used to have to plan our lives around when they came on. No more, thanks to DVRs. And that’s probably the primary reason most people signed up. But the second reason, even if accidental, has changed our lives just as much. You know what it is… No More Commercials.

With the exceptions of big events like the Super Bowl and maybe the Academy Awards, when advertisers pay big bucks to produce their newest and most creative ideas for the small screen, the invention of the DVR has allowed television viewers to skip through commercials like never before. Sure, we’ve been able to do it with VCRs for 30-plus years, but it was too much of a hassle to record every show. Now, if you’re anything like me, you record programs even if you’re sitting in front of the TV while they’re on just so you can skip commercials. I literally keep a long list of unwatched programs on my DVR so I can never have to see an ad. If I see something cool I want to watch, I’ll hit record and watch it 30 minutes later, sans commercials. I couldn’t imagine my life without my DVR, and there are millions just like me.

Advertisers know this tantalizing fact about our viewing habits and they hate it. For the past 50 years or so we were prisoners to their messages, unless we got up to pee or something. And now they are paying for air time that we skip right through like a fat guy skips the salad bar at a buffet.

But Volkswagen thinks it’s got us. In Belgium—where VW is huge and one-third of viewers watch pre-recorded television, 80 percent of who admit to skipping all commercials—the Beetle maker is trying out a “Slowmercial.” Basically, the 30-second commercial consists of a static frame of a VW Beetle Cabrio, and the only thing that separates it from a print ad is the slow opening convertible roof, some tweeting birds and a voiceover. Of course, the latter two will be lost on ad skippers, but they won’t be able to escape the spot and its printed message, “Let the sun shine in. Happy Drivers Days from 16 till 26 march. Happydrivers.be.”

DDB Brussels, the agency behind the “slowmercial,” claims the ad will have a 50 percent greater impact than an ordinary commercial since it will reach the delayed viewing audience. If those claims turn out to be true, we may all end up seeing a lot more of these slo-mo ads and end up prisoner to advertisers once again.