The VW Jetta television commercials from Crispin Porter + Bogusky are shocking, effective, and eerily beautiful. But as Phil Hatten points out to Scott G, the sound designer has undercut their message (or VW has a product defect).

Two guys are motoring along in a new Volkswagen Jetta. Driving safely. Chatting quietly. Suddenly…

BAM! A clown in a pick-up truck has backed out of a driveway into their lane, causing an accident that deploys the airbags.

Fade out and fade in to the two guys, fazed but apparently unharmed, standing next to the now-crumpled Jetta. Cut to clever titles (the spot is part of a campaign called “Safe Happens”) and the facts about the Jetta’s high government crash test rating.


I love it. One of the best commercials I’ve seen in years.

But wait. Designer and auto enthusiast Phil Hatten says to rewind the spot and listen to what happens a second before the crash.

A screech of brakes.

A screech of brakes? You mean to tell me the Jetta doesn’t have ABS (antilock braking system) technology?

And if the Jetta does have it, is the point of the spot that their ABS fails in a panic stop situation?

[tags]G-Man, Scott G, Communication Nation, advertising, ad rants, Crispin, VW, Jetta, TV commercial[/tags]

John Scott G, an admitted word nerd, writes books, plays, screenplays, and political commentary. Author of “Area Code 666,” “Secret Sex,” and “Ambient Deviant Speedmetal Polka,” Mr. G also writes under the pseudonym Gerald Laurence. Every day he happily rubs a few phrases up against each other to create sparks in your brain. You’re welcome.

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