What does a woman's weepy love for cats, an obese man smashing his game console and a football fan whining about glitter all have in common?
Well, aside from their emotional meltdowns becoming YouTube sensations, Volkswagen gave them, and dozens of other viral video freak-out stars, a chance at happy redemption in its Super Bowl 2013 pregame release teaser, released today.
Called "Sunny Side," Volkswagen's almost two-minute teaser starts off with a montage of YouTube rants, from a woman sobbing over cats in her "eHarmony Video Bio" (24.7 million views) to a "Sad Packer Fan" crying after her team loses a game (2 million views) to an angry man having the "Original Video Game Freak Out" and smashing his xBox (1.5 million).
Then the ranters come together on a sunny hillside, toting props from their videos - Debbie from "eHarmony Video Bio" is holding a cat, of course - as they happily frolic with Grammy-nominated reggae legend Jimmy Cliff while he sings a rendition of "The Partridge Family" TV show theme song, "Come On, Get Happy."
The commercial ends with the tagline, "Get In. Get Happy."
Corey Proffitt, a product and marketing communications specialist for Volkswagen of America, said the concept for "Sunny Side" reflects a similar "human stories" theme that Volkswagen used in another commercial called "Smiles" that was released in September. That commercial starts with video of a baby laughing and goes through a "time lapse" of videos of people of increasing age laughing. It ends with an elderly man.
"It was really just a brand spot and it set the tone for what we think the brand really emphasizes and what our customers feel when they drive the cars," Proffitt said. "["Sunny Side"] is a bit of an extension of that."
The development of "Sunny Side" started last fall. Out of 300 video clips that Volkswagen screened, about 100 people and animals were cast for the Cliff portion of the spot, which was shot last weekend in Los Angeles.
Proffitt said they tried to pick videos that were "more well-known." He declined to go into specifics about whether participants were paid, saying only, "They were all contracted to participate."
A team of people tracked the YouTube stars down to ask if they wanted to participate.
Some of the videos date back several years, and Proffitt said there were a few instances in which people were skeptical of Volkswagen's offer to include them in a commercial.
"One of the gentlemen in the video actually was contacted by our team and didn't initially respond," he said. "The team had reached out to his brother and was able to convince his brother that this was real, that we were real and were hoping to promote this… and so it ended up working out."
Volkswagen launched the trend of releasing teasers for its Super Bowl ads last year - tapping into the notion that people tune into watch the Super Bowl for the commercials as much as for the game. Last year's tease was called "The Bark Side," in which a group of dogs barked out Darth Vader's theme from "Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back."
Since then, others have followed suit. On Tuesday, Coca-Cola released its Super Bowl ad, launching a "gamified" campaign that invites viewers to choose the ending to its commercial.
Taco Bell, Toyota, Cars.com, Procter & Gamble and Kraft Foods are just some of the other major companies that have copied Volkswagen's viral Super Bowl teaser model.
And this is only the beginning. The Super Bowl, when the actual Super Bowl commercials air, is on Feb. 3.