Volkswagen up! advert using Stephen Hawking’s voice

Update: Today I received the following correspondance from the ASA

Thank you for contacting us about a radio ad from Volkswagen, we received a number of complaints about the ad. Some objected that the ad was produced without the consent of Stephen Hawking, Emeritus Lucasian Professor, while others objected it was offensive to people with disabilities and Professor Hawking in particular.

Having looked into the matter further, we are satisfied that the broadcaster has complied with the requirements of the BCAP Code and as a result we will not be pursuing the matter further. In particular, we have received confirmation that Professor Hawking gave his consent to appear in the ad.

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On the radio today an advert came on that caught my attention.

It was Stephen Hawking talking about the Higgs boson and typical intellectual stuff.

This went on for about 20 seconds.

Then the language soon changed to be very chatty, almost slang-like.

This didn’t feel like Professor Hawking talking.

All of a sudden he was talking about the new Volkswagen Up.

This wasn’t Stephen Hawking at all, just an ad peddling another car using his voice effect.

It was clever (for a second) but then felt wrong.

This didn’t have a clever twist, like the More Than Morgan Freeman advert.

Just fooling you into listening for a while.


(Update – here is a Youtube clip of the ad)

60 thoughts on “Volkswagen up! advert using Stephen Hawking’s voice

  1. chrisf

    Those who are complaining about this advert are missing the point completely. The advert celebrates Professor Hawking as an example of a genius that, inspite of his amazing intellect, still can’t understand how VW’s are so cheap. I don’t see how it demeans people with disabilites whatsoever. As a parent of a child with a mental disability I am constantly infuriated by those who feel the need to ‘speak on behalf of those with disabilities’ yet knowing little about the subject themselves. I agree with a previous comment….”Pull the pole out your rear ends. Losers.”

  2. Barbz

    What’s wrong with you people? The advert is great! Go find something worthwhile to ‘complain’ about. How can anyone be so stupid as to think Prof Hawking ‘didn’t approve’ …. unbelievable!! In fact, some of you, in your so-called defense of him, are patronizing beyond belief!

  3. Ian Fleming

    Personally I think it’s the funniest ad I’ve heard in a long time and good on Prof Hawking, we already know he has a sense of humour having made cameo appearances in various sit-coms – most recently The Big Bang Theory, it’s excellent.

  4. Gary Asher

    We too are suprised at this advert.. just does not feel right… even if Hawking did do it..maybe its just us being predjudiced to his condition and that it should not be made light of..but thats just our view and not everyones..but if he did it or consented to it..good on him.. great sense of humour..but if he did not..shame on you volkswagon..

  5. Martina

    I hate it, there’s no need for a genius such as him to do a cheap nasty advert for a car! duping people into listening against their will. I respect and admire Stephen Hawking and always listen to what he has to say and was surprised he would lower his standards to sell his well known voice for a car advert. I for one, don’t like being duped and I also hate adverts with a passion. Clever but really disappointing.

  6. John Spencer

    I seem to recall Stephen Hawking being disturbed
    as to how his voice was used and maybe something about him trying to get a patent on it.

    With that in mind I believe he would object
    to his personal voice being used in this fashion.
    As would anyone who had their identity used
    to flog what ever.

    Would at least be nice to hear the firm
    cut him a slice of the action or send some
    cash to his favorite charity.

  7. John winer

    I though this ad was so great I found these comments looking for it to play it for a friend
    I am now shocked as it looks as though VW did not pay him ?!
    If true I think *that* is bad
    Try using a Hollywood actors voice for free and see what happens…

  8. David

    I can confirm that Professor Stephen Hawking gave his approval and with great charm and a great deal of self-deprecation (the English way) spoke the words you hear in this radio commercial. He is a gentleman and a scholar.

  9. Paul Post author

    I see you were on the creative team that produced the ad, so thanks for replying!

    Upon finding out that he had consented, I updated the article with the ASA response; but it did seem to make quite a few people question whether it actually was him.

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