VW hopes mini Vader ad will boost US sales
Volkswagen is hoping to jumpstart sales in the United States after scoring a huge hit at the Super Bowl with its ad featuring a mini Darth Vader.
The cheeky ad features a little boy dressed in a "Star Wars" costume who fails to bring things to life with "The Force" until his father remotely starts a Passat.
The ad went viral before it even aired during Sunday game and was later voted the most popular commercial aired during the America's most-watched television programme and advertising extravaganza.
It had been viewed nearly 25 million times on YouTube by Thursday morning.
A second Super Bowl ad - featuring a zippy black beetle racing past other bugs in a forest - has scored nearly three million hits on YouTube.
"What we're trying to do is make people think again about the VW brand," said Jonathan Browning, chief executive officer of VW North America.
"VW is very well known but some of those impressions still harken back to the (old 1970's) beetle, the bus."
Improving VW's position in the US is a "top priority" in the German automaker's strategy to be the world's best-selling automaker by 2018, Browning said.
"We can't get to where we want to be globally if we don't strengthen our performance here in the US," he told the Chicago Economic Club during the Chicago auto show.
"China may be the largest vehicle market, but the US is still the world's most transparent and competitive market," he added. "If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere."
VW has underlined its commitment to the US market with the development of a plant in Tennessee which has a capacity of 150,000 vehicles but could expand to as much as 300,000 vehicles, he said.
The automaker is also designing vehicles like the upcoming Passat and Beatle "specifically with American customer priorities in mind" and "making German engineering much more accessible with prices that hit the sweet spot."