Environmental campaigners Greenpeace have launched a spoof series of ‘Darth Vader’ adverts directly attacking Volkswagen. The two videos are a direct parody of VW’s mini Darth Vader campaign which were shown in the week leading up to this year’s US Super Bowl and the televised half-time ad break.

Since February the ads have attracted more than 40 million views online and over 100 million views during the US TV slots. The campaign was recently launched in the UK, making the timing of Greenpeace’s attack even more significant.

VW – The Dark Side (Part I)

The Greenpeace ad urges viewers to “join the rebellion”, using a young cast of ‘Star Wars’ fans led by Obi-Wan Kenobi, who challenge VW’s mini Darth Vader and succeed in terminating the VW-branded “death star”. In Part 2 of the video the mini Darth Vader surrenders to Obi-Wan and his followers and then proceeds to join them in a victory ‘boogie’ followed by the obligatory Greenpeace banner which is hung over the VW death-star’s space-ports.

Episode II – The Rebels Strike Back

But what is the problem I hear you ask? Well, so far Greenpeace have succeeded in turning 6,968 jedi to join its rebellion, although it’s interesting to note that less than 1,400 people have viewed the videos on YouTube.

Here’s how Greenpeace describe the problem…

Rebel Manifesto

Our home—Earth—is in trouble. VW opposes key environmental laws we need if we’re going to stop our planet going the way of Alderaan (bye bye). But all is not lost. We feel the good in Volkswagen.

All of us in the Rebellion are calling on Volkswagen to turn away from the Dark Side and give our planet a chance.


Support strong CO2 emissions cuts.

Despite its green image, Volkswagen is spending millions of Euros every year funding lobby groups who are trying to stop Europe increasing its commitment to greenhouse gas reductions from 20% to 30% by 2020.
Progressive companies – from Google to Ikea, Sony, Unilever and Philips – support the target. Volkswagen can’t afford to be left behind.


Support strong fuel efficiency standards.

More efficient cars are cheaper to run, use less oil and emit less CO2. Volkswagen has a history of lobbying against the strong European standards that we need to kick our oil addiction.
As the biggest car company in Europe, with the biggest responsibility, VW must change and support strong standards from now on.


Put your technology where your mouth is.

Volkswagen says it wants to be “the most eco-friendly automaker in the world”, but only 6% of the cars it sold in 2010 were its most efficient models.
It has the technology to do better. VW must set out its plan to make its entire fleet oil-free by 2040.

(Read the report for full details)

VW Group emissions

To add insult to injury, Greenpeace names VW(Group) as Europe’s least green car maker in a 24-page report published this morning. The report accuses Volkswagen of exaggerating its green record and resisting attempts to make popular models such as the market-leading Golf more fuel efficient.

Greenpeace said, “The truth is that the Volkswagen Group has lagged behind its competitors for years. It only stepped up progress on CO2 reductions once a legal framework was put in place that forced it do so. It has shown no ability or willingness to voluntarily deliver the innovation or technology changes required. Now Volkswagen is openly opposed to the agreed 2020 standard that would benefit motorists, the economy and the environment.”

The Campaign

Greenpeace have put together a clever campaign which is built around a custom website containing the two videos, plus an achievements game which rewards participants with badges as they climb the ‘Star Wars’ ladder (from Baby Ewok through to Yoda), culminating in the ultimate prize of… a Greenpeace T-shirt. Way to go GP! (cue sacrastic whooping and hollering).

Greenpeace VW Dark Side

The troops have also been out in force this morning, and by troops I really mean troops – passers-by in London this morning have observed the rather unorthodox sight of Stormtroopers wearing VW badges encouraging people to “turn away from the dark side” (i.e. VW). The #vwdarkside hastag is not (yet) trending, but it surely will at some point later today, so if you’d like to oppose the campaign you can show your support with a Twibbon or tweeting your support for VW using the hastag #empiredrivesavw.

If you do however feel inclined to sign up and help Greenpeace turn VW away from the Dark Side, then visit vwdarkside.com to begin your Jedi Training.


Written By

Steve Davies

Steve is an investor, private equity advisor and former Partner at KPMG, PwC and Bain.   Most importantly he's a life-long car enthusiast, mountain biker and active sports enthusiast. He designs and builds technology platforms and is the architect behind Transmission.

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