Iconic Ads: Volkswagen – Singin’ in the Rain


Who would have expected Gene Kelly’s showpiece “I Am Singing In The Rain” to show up in a Golf GTI advertisement?

For 25 years, the Volkswagen Golf GTI had been an iconic vehicle and a recognisable brand name, and the debut of the current generation Golf GTI commercial (in 2005) was expected to confirm this position and the brand’s undeniable power.

Adam & Eve DDB’s Martin Loraine was seeking an idea for a commercial featuring the VW Golf GTI. He intended to convey that in a manner that was incredibly unique and unforgettable.

Martin was on the lookout for ideas or creative representations that served as icons or cultural touchstones. When the Golf GTI came out, he had an idea about it. He considered the GTI’s most notable feature to be the creation of a new automotive genre. Besides being swift and stylish, it was also an original, which is very difficult to come by.

When it came to capturing the essence of the automobile, Gene Kelly was a natural choice. He embodied the spirit of the automobile via his joy, exuberance, and vigour.

It was a no-brainer to choose ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ as the ad’s theme since it is a great piece of cinema history that has lasted the test of time. Gene Kelly’s performance is timeless and universal, and it fits right in with the Volkswagen Golf GTI’s core ideals.

The commercial begins with Gene Kelly wandering through the rain-soaked streets while twirling his umbrella. Then, in the blink of an eye, Gene Kelly transforms into some of the wildest breakdancing routines ever seen on television, which would have been unimaginable in 1952!

It took three of the best breakdancers and poppers in the world to execute some of the most impressive dance sequences you’ve ever seen on film. The outfits worn by the actors were identical to those worn by Gene in the iconic moment. Using the most advanced make-up and CGI techniques, Gene’s face was mapped onto the actor’s face. The result is a seamless commercial that updates old movie footage in the most dramatic way possible.

It wasn’t insulting to think of Gene Kelly doing this. It’s something he’d do if he were still around, since he was a highly creative person.

It took some convincing to get Patricia Ward Kelly, Kelly’s widow, on board with Martin and his team’s plan to stay true to the iconic sequence from the 1952 picture in which the Hollywood star dances in the rain, assuring her and Turner Films that they would not treat Gene with contempt. Gene was fascinated and appreciative of contemporary dance, even though he came from the 1940s.

With permission from EMI and Turner Movies and restored by Mint Royale’, the sequence was used in the ad film.

Steve Jones was the film’s art director. Under the pseudonym NE-O, Jake Knight and Ryoko Tanaka directed it.

This 60-second commercial was shot on the same Shepperton Studios set where the 1960s musical Oliver was filmed, but with a modern club mix. It shows Kelly singing and dancing in the rain, just like in the original scene.

Instead of using the film’s slogan, “What a glorious feeling,” the film ends with: “The original, updated.”

Even though the commercial tries to make you think of a classic movie scene, it still has a very modern feel.

DDB also thought about having Fred Astaire or Frank Sinatra sing the hit song Angels by Robbie Williams in the commercial.

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