To whom are they targeting this advertisement?

I saw this ad the other night and it cracked me up. The guy is an idiot. Idiots are funny. To that extent, I liked the ad.

Still, as a guy who spent a lot of his life in marketing, I have to wonder to whom it is targeted.

It is almost as if they are telling us that men who own Volkswagens throw like girls Obama. I don’t know anyone who identifies with the father in the ad and therefore would want to self-actualize by imitating him in his choice in automobiles.

Seriously, with 20 years of marketing experience under my belt, I remain mystified by the very common advertising theme that denigrates men, fathers, brothers and sons. It cannot possibly appeal to men. Does it appeal to women? I can’t see why it would. What could possibly be the thinking behind this type of marketing?

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19 Responses to To whom are they targeting this advertisement?

  1. EastBayLarry says:

    Maybe they’re hoping for a GM type bailout on the grounds of it would be the right thing to do (for the LGBT community).

  2. Matt says:

    Volkswagen makes some decent vehicles, yet with ads like this, they are well on their way to limiting their market to a very small demographic, much like Subaru has done. Subaru, like Volkswagen, makes some great cars. I’d like to own one. But, I don’t particularly want people assuming that I am a lesbian, or that I shop at Whole Foods, or that I voted for Obama. Hence, no Subaru for me.

  3. RJ says:

    Targeting the nerd herd metrosexual, feminized, green loving, windmill believing, frack hating crowd, gotta be.

    As opposed to ford f250 Superduty targeting the actual hands on working man.

    • notamobster says:

      As opposed to ford f250 Superduty targeting the actual hands on working man.

      …or the “all hat, no cattle” wannabes. Just saying.

  4. RJ says:

    Diesel Power… it’s not just for manly men…. πŸ™‚

  5. notamobster says:

    Back in the year 2000, I was driving down the 75/85 connector through midtown Atlanta and noticed a weird Coca-Cola billboard. It only showed enough of the Coca-Cola script to identify the trademark. I wondered why they would do that. 15 minutes later, when I was telling a friend at work about it, I found my answer.

    In effect, they made it a puzzle. The incongruity of it made my brain fixate on it enough that 13 years later, I’m still telling people about it.

    I imagine, in this case, they were attaching their branding to humor in the hopes that you would remember the humor as a mnemonic device for their product. In the humor/incongruity of the branding you have thus, shared it with several thousand people.

    Just my tuppence, anyway.

    • R.D. Walker says:

      It is as good a theory as I have heard. I still think the memory effect would be counteracted by the negative image of a Passat owner. I will remember the ad but it sure doesn’t make me want to own a Passat. The goal of advertising, after all, isn’t being memorable… it is to sell something.

      • notamobster says:

        I have known lots of guys like that. They enjoy being effete. They think it makes them seem cultured.

        They don’t realize that they just seem like a candy-ass to everyone else.

        As to your reply to my above comment, wouldn’t the memory effect impact purchase (non-impulse), since the mind associates humor, family time, fitting the mold you’re looking trying for (candy-ass)?

        Look at beer commercials. Do frogs make people want to self-actualize themselves into purchasing that swill? I don’t think so, but I think the ad campaign was a success in it’s day because it was funny.


        • R.D. Walker says:

          That’s different. That is “I am a rock star/survivor in the disguise of a mild mannered Clark Kent clerk.” Yeah, its silly, but it is cool.

          I doubt that “I am funny goober who can’t throw” sells the same way, however.

          • notamobster says:

            πŸ™‚ RD +1

            Okay, how about this then:

            What if there has been a shift from marketing a product to branding. Then, once your brand is firmly cemented, you can market the brand, whereas back-in-the-day, companies sought to market their product based upon it’s perceived benefit to the consumer – and today they just seek a foothold in the ever-more-chaotic marketplace.

            One needs to make their brand stick out, just to get noticed. I think I’m on to something here. Look at American Idol, Jersey Shore, etc. They are all about branding to get noticed, then the marketing comes in.

            Maybe this new evolution of branding has corporations & their products fighting for their 15 minutes of fame.

            If you perceive the company to be funny or likable, you may have some psychological bias when the time comes to make your decision.

            I may be completely full of crap, but explaining motivations fascinates me!

            • R.D. Walker says:

              Well, maybe. What can I say? I subscribe to the old school…

              “Harley Davidson is cool. I am a Harley Davidson guy. Therefore I am cool.”

              That’s the way marketing used to work. Still does, dammit.

  6. xenicalman says:

    Only one word comes to mind. Pixielated.

  7. R.D. Walker says:

    “Targeting the nerd herd metrosexual, feminized, green loving, windmill believing, frack hating crowd…”

    Serious question: Would this really appeal to them? I mean, even if you throw a baseball like a Bronco Bama on estrogen therapy, do you really want to self actualize around that reality? I don’t think so.

    • rj says:

      self perception, they really think they are the new normal, fracking deluded as it sounds, they would not perceive the guy in the vid as unusual, they can easily see themselves tossing the ball to their equally feminine sons and being loved for their parenting skills and keen purchase of a volkswagen.

  8. DarthJay says:

    I thought the commercial was kinda funny. What I saw VW saying was that, unlike this father’s bad baseball skills, a VW was something worth passing down. I think there is an appeal to a certain audience of men out there that understand there may be things they suck at – certainly it’s over-dramatized here, though. I’ve only ever seen one other guy throw a ball like that…

  9. Jim22 says:

    I think it shows suicidal tendencies in the VW boardroom.

    Of course I haven’t watched TV in many years so I don’t have a feel for the direction American advertising has taken.

    Maybe it’s designed to make President Obama feel better about himself.

  10. sortahwitte says:

    In the last years, advertising has started to portray men, white men in particular, as greatly diminished in cool, intelligence and masculinity. In ads for cars and cell phones or cell phone plans, men seem to be severely lacking in total brain cells. Men are shown to be buffoons and completely unnecessary in a family.

    As male heads of our families, we are under attack. One of our God given jobs is to be head of our family. Not as a dictator, but one who leads from the front with love. Every whining, sniping attack on fatherhood and manhood is an effort to undermine us and send our children and grandchildren away from our influence. This is as serious as a heart attack. We had best wake up.

  11. tahDeetz says:


    Ad agencies are chock-full of prog-bot hacks. Many a good ad is left on the floor over their P.C. ‘sensibilities.’