Volkswagen "Ashes" (2017) 1:30 (USA)

Set to a cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "America," this incredibly depressing ad starts with an older Irish woman reading the last wish letter of her dearly departed husband who wanted the family to do what he never could, which was go on a trip across America. Presumably, he never got a chance in the 50 plus years since he first went through Ellis Island for his TB check. Yep, that's right, it's another immigrant story, too because advertising is no longer unique and we are no longer allowed any sort of pure escapism without a constant comment on the current political climate.

Not to say the story isn't compelling, though. The old woman is a fantastic actor, weeping her way across America while the rest of the family gamely give her the courage to soldier on until they can finally dump grandpa's ashes in the sea. The music choice is a bit odd. Perhaps they figured no one would listen beyond hearing the sweeping "America," over and over again, but the subject matter of the song represents the elusive American dream. This was a theme for Simon and Garfunkel at this period in their career. Just one year before they had several huge hits in the quintessential baby boomer movie The Graduate, especially with "Sounds of Silence." That song too is also about searching for the mainstream dreams the rest of the country holds dear and not finding it.

And while this spot makes for beautiful scenery (and let's be honest, running footage, too) this is an oddly depressing story. If the cinematography weren't so dark there would have been some light at the end of the trip. As it was, I half expected a large family suicide pact at the end. In short: a large family driving around in a seven-seater car that costs thirty-five thousand dollars. Because nothing says America like riding in a giant car that costs more than sixty percent of the average family of four's salary. A car made by a foreign company, no less. Well, all righty then.

Client: VW of America
President, CEO: Hinrich Woebcken
SVP, Marketing: Vinay Shahani
Director, Marketing Communications and Media: Jennifer Clayton
Advertising Manager, VW Marketing: Chanel Barresi
Brand Advertising Senior Specialist: Tammy Nguyen
Agency credits
Chief Creative Officer, North America: Pete Favat
Executive Creative Director: Todd Riddle
Group Creative Director: Heath Pochucha
Creative Director: Zaid Al-Asady
Associate Creative Director/AD: Lindsey King
Copywriter: Paul Sincoff
Art Director: Scott Brown
Director of Integrated Production: Vic Palumbo
Executive Integrated Producer: Margaret Nickerson
Senior Integrated Producer: Ali Issari
Associate Producer: Kayla Laufer
Music Supervisor: Eryk Rich
Music Supervisor: Chase Butters
Group Account Director: Tom Else
Account Director: Alex Gross
Account Supervisor: Erin Shanahan
Account Executive: Nate Pouley
Director of Product Information: Jason Clark
Product Information Supervisor: Chris Brown
Co-Director of Strategy: Susie Lyons
Group Strategy Director: Donn Rohn
Senior Strategist: Ben Perreira
Junior Strategist: Leigh Citarella
Director of Integrated Business Affairs: Abilino Guillermo
Group Director Integrated Business Affairs: Gabriela Farias
Talent Coordinator: Kristian Evanculla
Director or Broadcast Traffic: Carie Bonillo
Broadcast Traffic Manager: Courtney Tylka
Production Company: MJZ
Director: Benito Montorio
Executive Producer: Kate Leahy
Line Producer: Martha Davis
Director of Photography: Alwin Kuchler
1st Assistant Director: Gregg Dobbin
Editorial Company: Cartel
Editor: Andy McGraw (America and Coast to Coast)
Editor: Leo Scott (Blanket, Bumble, Intersection, Map, Parents, and Sleep Six)
Executive Producer: Lauren Bleiweiss
Producer: Lauren Pullano
Assistant Editor: Vanessa Yuille
Post Facility: MPC
MPC Flame Artist: Brian Williams
VFX Supervisor: Ben Persons
Executive Producer: Karen Anderson
Senior Producer: Mark Driscoll
Production Coordinator: Dori Sharvit
Color Correction: MPC
Colorist: Mark Gethin
Executive Producer: Meghan Lang
Producer: Rebecca Boorsma
Music (Licensed and Original/Arranged)
Licensed Music for America
Track: “America”
Artist: Simon & Garfunkel
Composer: Paul Simon
Publisher: UMPG
Label: Sony Music Entertainment
Licensed Music for Coast to Coast
Track: First Aid Kit cover of “America” by Simon & Garfunkel
Publisher: UMPG
Label: Sony Music Entertainment
Original/Arranged Music for Blanket, Bumble, Intersection, Maps, Parents and Sleep Six
Track: Singing Serpent covers/arrangements of “America” by Simon & Garfunkel
Audio Post Company: Lime Studios
Audio Mixer: Joel Waters
Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan
Assistant Mixer: Stephen Fredericks

Adland® is supported by your donations alone. You can help us out by buying us a Ko-Fi coffee.
Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
Files must be less than 5 MB.
Allowed file types: jpg jpeg gif png wav avi mpeg mpg mov rm flv wmv 3gp mp4 m4v.
Dabitch's picture

Do they always film the same areas in these road trip ads? I feel like location scouts should mix it up a little.

Diane's picture

When we scattered my father's ashes, we were told it is illegal unless you go three miles out in the ocean. We were told this in NJ and Florida. Is this just an east coast law? Just wondering.

Dabitch's picture

No that's a law everywhere in the US, the federal Clean Water Act requires that cremated remains be scattered at least three nautical miles from land - if you are scattering ashes at sea.
You can also scatter the ashes in any area of the state where there is no local prohibition, if you obtain written permission from the property owner or governing agency.

fairuse's picture

The whole thing about the ashes is FUBR when I first heard about. SOME thumb off the rule, I've stood knee deep in river water while Amazing Grace is sung and ashes-to-ashes thing is done. Big f'ing deal some phosphates in the water. Oh, look isn't that the new USCG attack river boat over there? No, not by the tourists, by the oil refinery. ( name of is withheld)

Since my TV is always muted unless I see an ad that I want to hear I couldn't figure out why wife was singing S&G while baseball is on . Duh, ad sing-a-long. Some of these ads are ok, at least it's not slamming beer in your face like that blue al-loom-MEN-inum can ad does.

Yep, the stock, this is America scenes, are due for a makeover