Douglas Van Praet (EVP at Deutsch LA) recently said in an article on co.create that his agency’s successful ad, “The Force,” would not have passed via traditional copy testing measures and may not have ever made it to air.

While we respect Van Praet, we have to respectfully disagree with his opinion. What gives us the right to do so?
Well, we tested “The Force.” And not only did it pass, it passed with flying colors.

To refresh your memory, “The Force” is a television spot aired during the 2011 Super Bowl. It featured little Darth Vader struggling to use his ‘powers’…that is, until the new Volkswagen enters the picture.

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Van Praet states in his article that, “Traditional ad testing indicated that the spot generated a below-average persuasion score–the measure of stated purchase intent that has achieved exalted status in the industry despite its weak correlation to actual sales.”

In contrast, our findings showed the opposite:

1. This is one of the strongest performing ads we’ve tested, falling in the 99th percentile on Attention of all ads tested within the past five years.

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2. Our proprietary Flow of Emotion picture sort allowed us to track the emotional power of the ad. In fact, we saw that viewers were sympathetic to Little Darth’s disappointments. But, when Volkswagen enters the scene, any intended negative emotion is replaced by strong, positive emotion. This successful integration of positive and negative emotion helped drive (pardon the pun) above average Motivation.

3. Our Flow of Meaning picture sort gave us insight into which brand messages were being communicated with the visuals (hint: it was ‘power’). This is a learning that cannot be achieved via Brain Wave research.

The above results were presented in a webcast via the ARF. Perhaps more interesting than the results themselves was the fact that the following year, Volkswagen’s tagline became “The power of German engineering.”

So while we appreciate Mr. Von Praet’s openness to some forms advertising research, we ask he not discount all traditional copytesting systems. Some of us really can connect the heart with the head.

Sonya Duran is a Research Director at Ameritest. For more information or for a copy of “The Force” test results, please email her at