The world’s most expensive TV advertising spots feature between breaks in the play of the Super Bowl, the American football final held every February.

Amazingly a 30 second slot costs a cool $1m and last year Volkswagen took two slots to support its push in the world’s second biggest car-market. The appeal is not just to connect with football fans, but the massive TV audience, many of whom tune in solely to watch the ads.

The ‘mini-Vader’ Stars Wars ad that launched the new US-built Passat is said to have given VW and its subsidiary brands such a boost that it helped record its best sales results in the US for 39 years last year.

Last year VW alone recorded its best sales figures in the US since 1981, 325k units. All this matters because the world’s biggest car-company is sinking a massive amount of investment into the US in an attempt to claw back decades of lost opportunities. ‘We have suffered years of underperformance in the US compared to the rest of the world and wehave to fix it,’ says Jonathan Browning, the British-born boss of VW of America.

VW now has 14 per cent of the Chinese market, 12 per cent of the European and eight per cent of the global market, but just 2.5 per cent of the US. ‘People like the brand but haven’t been purchasing a car when they go to a dealership,’ adds Browning.