Skoda: Reconnect Robbie / Frank PR
It appears there has been a recent trend occurring in car marketing which has seen brands sway towards more emotional ads which focus less on the vehicles themselves and more on people and their lives. Recent examples include Volvo’s latest work, ‘Human Made Stories’, featuring short films on underwater crop growers and the recovery of a paralysed violinist, and its earlier ‘Moments’ campaign which depicted a little girl thinking about the life she has ahead of her before narrowly escaping being knocked down by a car. Škoda-owner Volkswagen has also been riding the emotional rollercoaster with work including a documentary on an impressive blind photographer and a spot which reunited a man with his beloved childhood Beetle. Škoda’s latest work by Frank PR has similarities to Volkswagen’s Beetle ad, however rather than reuniting its subject with a car, it reunites him with his family from overseas.
The Škoda team go undercover to set up a surprise reunion between Londoner and Australian expat Robbie, and his family who live in Melbourne. Having not seen each other in over a year, Robbie’s family are secretly flown over to the UK where they wait outside a local café for Robbie’s arrival. Secret cameras follow Robbie on his daily commute as subliminal signs are placed along his journey that indicate he has a surprise coming his way. The team erect a street art mural featuring imagery of Robbie and his family and place the word ‘Reconnect’ in various places in his path, yet humorously, Robbie misses them all. He is so unsuspecting that he even almost walks past his own family at the climax of the film, however the family are eventually reunited in an uplifting moment. The ad aims to promote the Skoda Reconnect Fund which hopes to facilitate all kinds of reconnections, big or small.
Part of Skoda’s wider ‘Reconnect’ initiative, the activity has so far featured a series of ads that run under the ‘Driven by Something Different’ slogan. A major push for the initiative has come from the brand’s partnership with Olympic cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins, who has appeared in previous ads which have urged viewers to reconnect with the things that are most important to them. Two spots by Fallon have seen the sportsman let viewers in on his personal journey, from learning to ride a bike to scaling the rugged peaks of Wales, documenting his life from concentrated hours of pro cycling to tender moments with friends and family. However, appropriately, Wiggins takes a relative back seat in Škoda’s latest spot, letting Robbie’s reconnection with his family take centre stage.
Despite this being an example of car marques going down the emotive advertising route, the spot refrains from being overly heart wrenching, instead coming across as if the set up was no more than a simple kind gesture by Škoda. Wiggins cameo role in disguise as your average park bench newspaper reader and Robbie’s complete obliviousness to all that is going on around him provides light humour to an experiment that could have easily gone down a more serious route.
The ad isn’t quite as entertaining as an earlier stage of the Reconnect campaign that saw children put down their favourite electronical devices and instead reconnect with animals and nature, but it is an enjoyable spot that provides a pleasant pick-me-up. It fits in well with Skoda’s overarching push: to get people to reconnect with the world and those around them, making that possible through a journey in its new Skoda Kodiaq, and is likely to drive interest and intrigue around the brand’s Reconnect Fund.