Greenpeace campaigners, dressed as Star Wars soldiers, unveiled a banner over billboard ads that read: 'Volkswagen. The Dark Side.' The protest was part of a campaign highlighting VW's opposition to EU environmental laws. VW featured a child dressed as Darth Vader in a recent TV ad campaign.
HOW I SEE IT - DAN HOLIDAY, FOUNDER/MD, NOT ACTUAL SIZE
This has to be a big hit for several reasons. Most are obvious: we all know and love Star Wars; it makes the campaign look like an own-goal for VW and there's a certain enjoyment to be had from watching a corporation and ad agency being outsmarted.
But there's an underlying reason why this works so well. 'Subvertising' like this works best when it picks up on a brand characteristic and links it with an undesirable social attitude. The problem for VW here is that German car makers have long traded on their ruthless, super-human technocratic supremacy.
Those inhuman values align with The Empire and Darth Vader who, of course, destroyed planets for their own ends. In other words, the ad feels like an illuminated truth and not just a joke.
Not even Yoda could get them out of this one - HIT