Super Bowl XLV Commercials (House and Volkswagen)

Super Bowl XLV held many captivating advertisements during its commercial breaks. Amoung them, two stand out as shining examples of professional advertising; these are Fox’s promotion for its series, House, and a new commercial for the Volkswagen Passat.

House Super Bowl XLV Commercial

Being the product of major network’s advertising department means that the T.V series House’s super bowl ad was a top-notch example of effective advertising. The ad depicts Dr. House walking down an active hospital hallway. A child then appears from behind a corner to express his admiration to Dr. House and offers him a churro, which House promptly refuses. But then, a feeling of sympathy suddenly appears in Dr. House, causing him to toss his cane towards his admirer in such a way as to give the boy a memento. The commercial ends with the cane smacking the boy in his face, House grunting in disappointment and embarrassment followed but a text appearing on screen that shows details for new episodes of House.

Dominick decribes Consumer Advertising as "targeted at the people who buy goods and services for personal use" (p. 342). When we analyze this commercial, we can immediately tell that it is an example of a Consumer Advertisement because of its advertising strategy. It tries to reach everyone who watches TV with a focus on consistent House viewers. Through a display of character interaction, the commercial advertises directly to its current viewers and fans by giving them a House “short” in the form of a commercial. The exposure to the familiar dialog will draw the fan’s attention to the advertisement, making them completely absorb its message. This makes it a very effective consumer ad.

In addition to being a Consumer Advertisement, the ad is also an example of viral marketing. It presents comical talking points to viewers like House’s throwing his cane or the “out of place” churro in a hospital, which allows information about the commercial to spread through word of mouth. The ad is also references a Coca Cola commercial made in 1979 featuring “Mean” Joe Green. Again, this reference becomes a talking point for viewers on a more cerebral level than the above examples, and can further promotion through word of mouth.

We can also determine the advertisement’s target audience through analysis. This is the most important element in an advertisement. Dominick enforces this when he writes "even the slickest, most imaginative advertising will fail if it is delivered to the wrong people" (p. 352). A target audience is defined as "the specific segment of the population for whom the product or service has a definite appeal" (Dominick p.342). We already know that as a Consumer Advertisement, the ad targets current House viewers. We also know that since the ad is playing during the Super Bowl, it is trying to reach many different demographics. We can tell from the way children are portrayed that the ad most likely targets parents, or someone who can relate to having to deal with children pestering them. We know that males hold the majority of the super bowl viewing demographic, so we can assume father’s are specifically targeted. Therefore, we know the target audience of the ad to be fans, 18-35 males and females, and parents or those who hold a parental position.
external image house-md.jpg

Because viewers must wait until the new episode premiers before they can watch it, this advertisement is an example of an indirect action ad. The ad does everything that it can to persuade people use its service, however the network must wait before it can see whether or not the commercial was effective.

House a popular show on network television and is viewed by a large portion of the American population. Also, the ad was broadcast on national television and during a time of high viewership. Since the advertisement was able to reach people on a national level, it is an example of a National Advertisement.

One of the most strategic times to air a commercial is during the Super Bowl. Super Bowl ad space has many of the characteristics advertisers look for. Since many people watch the Super Bowl, it has very high reach. The ad also has high selectivity because it promotes a television program during another program. Viewers will be pleased when they see a commercial promoting a familiar activity like watching TV and will act accordingly. Most importantly, the ad is very efficient. The ad is only broadcast once during the Super Bowl, but because of its high views per broadcast ratio it is still effective. In addition, the ad will continue to be viewed on the internet thanks to a 3rd party uploading it because of its status as a Super Bowl ad.

The Volkswagen Super Bowl XLV Commercial

According to The Dynamics of Mass Communication “Advertising is any form of non personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods, and services, paid for by the identified sponsor” (pg. 362). It’s a persuasion of ideas to go out and get you to buy their product. What the Darth Vader commercial did first was identify their target audience. The target audience is a specific segment of the population for whom the product or service has a definite appeal. This commercial is appealing to several target audiences. Since it’s a car commercial it’s appealing to anyone that can drive. Yet at the beginning of the commercial you’re not quite sure what they are selling but it keeps the audience intrigued. The commercial starts out with little cute kid dressed in a Darth Vader costume. This is immediately targeting the Star Wars fan crowd. Star Wars is one the highest grossing and most influential movies of all time. This commercial is also attracting the parent audience because it brings out happy emotional moments of being parents. Parents usually love it when they see funny and adorable moments with kids. Overall the target audience is pretty much the general audience. This commercial appeals to almost everyone because it uses humor along with Stars Wars to create an exciting commercial.

Although this commercial is promoting the use and advertising of Volkswagen the commercial is actually a selective demand ad. A selective demand ad is used by an individual company to sell its particular brand such as a certain brand of bread. In this case a certain type of Volkswagen car. They are selling the all new 2012 Passat which they say is coming out soon. Volkswagen using the selective demand ad is a unique technique because this commercial is very memorable that hopefully consumers relate the car to the commercial. The main purpose of the commercial is to be humorous but develop a comfortable feeling when thinking about Volkswagen. So effectively if consumers are thinking about going out and buying the car,
external image volkswagen_1.jpgthey'll immediately relate to the commercial and already have a positive feeling about the car.

Along with other specific advertisements this commercial presents consumer advertising. Consumer advertising is advertising directed at a certain consumer audience who will use their product for their benefit and according to Dominick (2009) “Most of the advertising that people are exposed too falls into this category” (pg 342). This commercial is targeted for people who prefer Volkswagens. Once the car pulls up the audience realizes that this is a Volkswagen commercial because of the emblem on the front of the car. This commercial is directed at anyone looking to buy a car and seem to like Volkswagens which in this case is adults. They show the outside and inside of the car in order to show the certain style of Volkswagen. Hopefully by doing this the consumer advertising is able to connect with the desires of target audience and they will want to buy the product.

When watching the Volkswagen commercial its intent is to create hype. This is called indirect action ad. It works over the long term to increase product awareness and the companies image. When the car turns on in front of the Darth Vader kid this is meant to create a sense of shock and humorous excitement towards the audience by showing the new technology of the Passat. It then transitions into the selling of the car and its release almost in the fashion of a ending movie trailer. This is meant to create an excited buzz for the audience and increased anticipation of the cars release. This will hopefully create a unique positive image for the company and people will be a lot more aware of the new Passat.


In spite of being designed for completely different products, the two commercials are somewhat related. One is focused on selling the Volkswagen Passat, and the other promotes upcoming new episodes for the TV series, House. Despite this, they use similar advertising techniques.

Both advertisements show similar target audiences through their appeal to a parental demographic. They depict children as being intrusive and inconsiderate which is a situation that many parents can relate to. To further the push for a parental demographic, the parental figures respond to the children’s nonsense with practical jokes. This, in addition to being relatable, makes the parental characters humorous through their responses and therefore, easier to identify with.

In addition, the ads are both consumer advertisements since they appeal directly to their viewers and potential consumers. These advertisements do this by displaying their logos and using a humor element in order to catch their consumers attention.

The products are also examples of indirect action ad, because they create hype for their products instead of promoting the actual sale of the products; the Volkswagen ad reminds consumers of the new Passat’s release and the House commercial excites viewer for new episodes of the series.

In summation, the ads employ the same method to achieve similar goals but for completely different products..


Dominick, J. (2011). The dynamics of mass communication. New York: McGraw-Hill. 10 February 2011

FOX, Initials. (Producer). (2011). House m.d. - super bowl ad 2011. [Web]. Retrieved from 10 February 2011

Volkswagen, . (Producer). (2011). Volkswagen commercial: the force. [Web]. Retrieved from 10 February 2011