VW Attracts Soccer Moms by Making Fun of Them

Hmmm…..it’s an interesting strategy.   Volkswagen is pushing their Routan minivan in a series of Webisodes featuring a slightly crazed "soccer mom."

Webisode one

Webisode two.

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?   

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5 Responses to VW Attracts Soccer Moms by Making Fun of Them

  1. Hi Holly,
    To play devil’s advocate, I actually thought these were pretty funny. It reminds me a little of the In The Motherhood webisodes with Chelsea Handler (which are pretty edgy but have developed enough of a following that ABC picked it up for TV). Deb is so clearly over the top that I didn’t view the kids in the rain or guys needing to pee (I have a tiny bladder too so can empathize) as put downs and thought it was hilarious at the end of episode 2 when it was clear Deb had peed in the woods as well. One thing I like about VW, much like Apple, is they seem to walk the line nicely of appealing to a mindset vs. gender. Their humor has always had some edge (remember Un-Pimp My Ride?) and I’m sort of glad they didn’t tone that down for women.
    Just my two cents – thanks for a great post!

  2. I LOVE In the Motherhood. I find the main characters very relatable.
    I’ll wait to see the rest of the VW webisodes before making a final call.

  3. Gerry says:

    I agree with you, and then some. While soccer mom is clearly over the top and that is part of the humor, I’m not sure it is something young moms will relate to or enjoy. As far as the bathroom scenario, I do think moms face that issue a lot, and some probably handle it that way, but maybe not the trees as the solution. Afterall, girls play soccer too. To me it looks more like male creative humor than something that will strike a chord with their target market. But I’m willing to wait until more come out to see if my opinion is altered.

  4. Are women still Soccer Moms?
    Is this still a fashionable term or is there a more up-to-date one we should be using?

  5. As far as the bathroom scenario, I do think moms face that issue a lot, and some probably handle it that way, but maybe not the trees as the solution. Afterall, girls play soccer too.

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