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When an Advertisement Sells More Than Cars

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Volkswagen is encouraging us to incentivize goodness. Give people a reason to do the right thing. A coworker just sent me a link to this advertisement via Facebook.

I admit, I'm a sucker for this kind of thing. But this one left me scratching my head a bit. I found myself really rooting for Volkswagen here. But I wondered.

How will this ad sell cars? I don't know. I prefer Honda myself. And the ad doesn't seem to be selling cars at all. Instead, it is selling an ethos that I can support whether I ever intend to buy Volkswagen.

Take a moment to watch the ad if you haven't seen it before.

It is encouraging us to incentivize goodness (Caterina Fake, Co-Founder of Flickr, has some very interesting ideas about incentivization in this interview.) Give people a reason to do the right thing. After all, most people want to be good. We just don't have the discipline or the time.

Sam Van Eman, one of our editors here at The High Calling, talks about the Sim Gospel in his book On Earth as It Is in Advertising?

He says that the Sim Gospel includes "all messages that simulate the biblical narrative through advertising and popular media for the purpose of selling products and ideas." In a sense, this Volkswagen ad is simulating the good news. People can do the right thing, they can take the stairs, they can have healthier bodies, and they can fill the world with music while they do it.

The simple act of walking up the stairs has beauty and mystery again. In this video the stairs become a kind of burning bush, reminding people that God has filled the world with surprise and joy, and called us to be cocreators with him, hiding pianos on stair cases.

Which makes it a really effective advertisement.

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