Despicable Me, Delightful Ad: VW’s Crossover Commercial Pays Off


The Atlas | Room for More


Brand and media collaborations are fashionable, but they can pose a risk for the brands involved. For every triumph like Oreo’s 5-Star Super Mario tie-up there’s a spot like Bud Light’s Super Bowl crossover with Game of Thrones, in which one of the fantasy saga’s dragons fried popular Fluent Device the Bud Knight, leaving consumers surprised but not especially happy.

Fortunately VW handle a media tie-in better in their latest ad, for the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas, which doubles as a promo for the new Despicable Me 4 movie, in cinemas this July. VW have shown a deft hand for cultural references in their ads before, like their previous Ad Of The Week appearance, a spot celebrating the ad’s 70th anniversary in Brazil, which incorporated an AI-generated version of iconic singer Elis Regina. The media whipped up controversy around the ad, but our Test Your Ad report found that audiences loved the work.

The Despicable Me 4 ad won’t cause any such drama – it’s a delightful dip into a much-loved animated universe. VW’s ad shows lead character Felonius Gru about to take a VW Atlas for a family trip. There’s a ton of space for all six of the family, and even an extra seat – news of which makes Gru’s horde of excitable Minions surround the car. One lucky Minion does get a ride once the dust settles.

The ad works to reintroduce viewers to the Despicable Me cast and whet their appetites for another serving of villainous fun. But it’s also a strong VW ad, with the car in a starring role and the storyline revolving around just how much space and comfort the Atlas gives its passengers.

Just how good the ad is – and how valuable media collabs can be – becomes clear when we look at the Test Your Ad results for the commercial. The average Star Rating for all automotive brand commercials in the US is an unimpressive 2.3-Stars. This VW ad scores 5.0-Stars, putting it not just into the top Star Rating bracket but into the top 1% of all 3,500+ car ads we have on the database. Gru and the Minions are definitely playing a big part in that. The ad also scores exceptionally well on short-term Spike rating.

It gets a more modest score on Brand Fluency, which reminds us of the risk in collaborations – they are advertising both partners, so some of the audience may not realize or recall your brand’s part of it. But the exceptional scores on other measures more than justify VW’s decision to team up with Despicable Me here. The ad obeys the golden rule of collaborative creative – give both sides of the partnership a crucial role to play in the creative.

Stay tuned for more insights on the auto category with our forthcoming report. In the meantime, take a look at the VW report for inspiration.

Create 5-star ads

The more people feel, the more they buy

The most effective ads boost sales and drive long-term growth. They do it by making people feel more - building positive associations with a recognisable brand. We predict sales and growth impacts by measuring emotion, letting you make ads that entertain for commercial gain.

Try Test Your Ad