Won’t EV drivers think of the gas station attendants?

Who: Volkswagen Canada, with Type1/Taxi for strategy and creative; Nova Film for production; Post-Moderne and LaMajeure for post-production; Touché for media.

What: “Le Pompiste,” a bittersweet Quebec campaign that takes its inspiration from the 1977 Jean-Jacques Cramier song of the same name, which means “The Gas Station Attendant” in English. It’s the latest in a series of original Quebec spots for VW.

When & where: The campaign went live last week, running across TV and social in Quebec.

Why: The campaign is promoting the all-electric ID.4 and what retail marketing manager Mark Dicks describes as the “electrification” of the brand. It follows a string of announcements relating to Volkswagen’s electric future, including the Canadian debut of the ID.4 and the recent opening of its North American EV plant in Tennessee.

Type1 president Christine Maw said that Quebec represents a “key market” for VW, and it’s crucial for the company to “connect culturally” with Quebeckers in order to get them excited about an electric future. “That’s the core essence of Be the Change, VW’s overarching brand platform,” she said.

How: While so much EV advertising is earnest and save the planet-y, this one uses some good-natured humour to deliver the brand message. With Cramier’s song providing the soundtrack, the TV spot opens on a gas station attendant who clearly hasn’t had a customer in a while. He perks up when a car pulls in, only to be disappointed when the driver—played by VW’s Quebec spokesperson Pier-Luc Funk—places a single pack of gum on the counter.

“[The] cinematic approach gets us to like the gas station attendant automatically,” said copywriter Philippe Brosseau. “We wanted people to get hooked by the storyline from the very start…”

After the man silently implores Funk to buy more with his sad eyes and a hangdog expression, we see him exiting the store with windshield cleaner, sunglasses, hat, and even a fishing net. “What’s all that?” asks his companion. “You don’t want to know,” he responds as he climbs in the car—conspicuously parked under a sign advertising gas at $1.71 per litre—and drives away.

And we quote: “It’s an original and refreshing way to talk about the electrification of the brand. We wished to show the two worlds meeting, and the idea presented to us was right on the money.”  — Mark Dicks, retail marketing manager, Volkswagen Canada

Chris Powell