In 1980, in a small German town in Lower Saxony, three young musicians formed a band called “Trio” that produced over its five year lifespan a number of albums but only one well known song “Da da da, ich lieb dich nicht, du liebst mich nicht, aha aha aha (Da da da I Don’t Love You You Don’t Love Me Aha Aha Aha) usually called “Da Da Da.” Da Da Da links to the name of an early 20th century avant-garde art movement, Dadaism that was anti-art.
Dada artists, nihilists reacting to what they believed had produced the “insane spectacle of collective homicide” that was World War I, involving the relentless pursuit of national interests, deliberately flouted traditional aesthetics and sought with their works to offend viewers’ sensibilities. Presumably, some in the art world feel encouraged by being offended.
The song Da Da Da, written in the then developing genre of music called “Neue Deutsche Fröhlichkeit”, or “New German Cheerfulness” – indeed – displayed this odd ‘Dada’ energy which, in turn, inspired cover versions in many languages and many soundtracks for advertisements, the most famous of which was a Volkswagen television ad in 1997.
In the Volkswagen ad, two young men while driving in a Volkswagen Golf listening to Da Da Da on the radio, and gesturing, head bobbing, and push puppeting —a white skeleton— to its simple, elemental beat see an upholstered living room chair beside a garbage can on the roadside, load it into the car’s backseat, then decide they do not want it, unload it and drive off. A female narrator says: “The German engineered Volkswagen Golf. It fits your life … On the road of life there are passengers and there are drivers.”
The Volkswagen Golf GTI is credited with launching the “hatch phenomenon” in North America due to its affordability and “fun-to-drive” personality, and, no doubt, this strange and memorable advertisement contributed to its success in the marketplace.
And now, to promote the latest ‘Autobahn for All’ sale including the Golf, Volkswagen has created a new ad —Ya Ya Ya—which pays homage to its original Da Da Da ad. ‘Ya Ya’ begins with a bespectacled young female engineer referencing a tablet-sized ‘clip board’ to list features that her male colleague confirms with a “Ya” “Ya” “Ya.” A synthesized version of the original Da Da Da song begins, the screen begins splitting into every possible combination of three’s, the systematic check-off gives way to push puppeting in time to the music—the white skeleton again—and then robotic-like breakdancing with a third male engineer performing. When male engineer#1 says “Nine” to a wave with male engineer#2 the music stops and the ad ends.
People who know about these things tell us that this is great advertising. Certainly, it is strange and perhaps attention-getting. We will see what is does for car sales.