Hmmm…..it’s an interesting strategy. Volkswagen is pushing their Routan minivan in a series of Webisodes featuring a slightly crazed "soccer mom."
In a recent Advertising Age article, VW discusses the strategy:
While it’s perhaps not surprising that VW used a soccer platform to sell minivans, a pairing as timeless as Thanksgiving and turkey in suburban America, the somewhat mocking portrayal of soccer moms might raise a few eyebrows.
They are the, uh, target audience, after all.
But Crispin and VW wagered that their soccer moms view that status ironically. "The relationship between minivans and moms is nothing new, but it’s new to Volkswagen," said Omid Farhang, the Crispin assistant creative director who helped produce the campaign. "A lot of these women who are now soccer moms were driving Rabbits and Cabriolets when they were in college."
They’re certainly right about soccer moms viewing their status ironically. It’s because, from the polling I’ve done, the vast majority of women do not want the label "soccer mom" applied to them. Can you blame them? Look at the trophy "handler" who is horrified that he’s going to have to spend time with this "soccer mom."
So will making fun of soccer moms appeal to that very target audience?
There are certainly parts of the video that are funny, but I found some of the humor fell flat. It’s due to a part of the strategy that I think may backfire:
Mr. Farhang believes Ms. Collins’ portrayal of a soccer mom as an overeager, close-talking scatterbrain, who, in the first episode, drives off without her soccer-playing kids, will wind up being more endearing than derisive. "As people start watching, they’ll make a deeper connection," he said. "She takes intense pride in motherhood, even if she crosses the line sometimes."
It was the two "crossing the line" scenes that didn’t work for me. One was the scene where the two kids are left sitting, forgotten by their mom. One is obviously cold, tucking arms into his jersey. Then it starts to rain. That visual was not funny to me.
The second scene that didn’t work for me was when the soccer players had to go to the bathroom, but she wouldn’t stop. Maybe it’s just because I tend to be a member of the Tiny Tank club, but that also fell flat with me.
I think some of this has to do with male vs. female humor. Women don’t respond as well to humor where someone who is weaker is put down. Women value relationships. So the fact that this soccer mom is causing pain/discomfort to kids and the soccer players in her control may not be as funny for women as it is for men.
I have to say, I loved the Routan TV commercial with Brooke Shields. But I suspect that works because it is she who is the whacky character, rather than the owners/drivers of the minivan. Brooke is someone who women are familiar with and are used to seeing as a whacky, yet compassionate character. (Suddenly Susan)
Perhaps this soccer mom character will grow and indeed become more "endearing" as the webisodes continue.
What do you think of the Webisodes?