Why VW’s Super Bowl Ad Struck A Cord With Moms

One of the most popular ads shown during last week’s Super Bowl was for the 2012 VW Passat. You know, the one with the child dressed up as Darth Vadar trying to use “The Force” while the Star Wars score plays.

This commercial tugged at the heartstrings of millions of parents whose children have run around their homes flailing their light sabers.  I know, because I’m one of those parents.  Once upon a time I had a son that age who wore the exact same costume — attemping the exact same thing.  This commercial took me on a nostalgic journey back in time, and I’m grateful for that journey.  Perhaps that’s why the ad instantly went viral; it mirrored a real life situation that most parents can connect with.

But it was also one of the few ads that resonated with a key consumer demographic: Moms.  We all know that a large percentage of Super Bowl viewers are women, but this sporting spectacle has also become one of the biggest family events of the year — meaning many of those women are also moms.

Patty Minglin , a marketing consultant with M2M, recently pointed out several marketing-to-mom lessons marketers can learn from Volkswagen’s success:

Focus on Family. Yes, resonating with mom is a key component to any marketing-to-mom strategy, but if your brand can create a spot that resonates with mom, dad and kids — you’ve hit the marketing-to-mom trifecta. Developing a campaign with universal family appeal does more than just bring dads (and kids and even grandparents) into the conversation, it actually gives mom the opportunity to use your campaign as a way to connect with her own family.

Tell an Emotional Story. The VW ad resonates with moms because of the whimsical and heart-touching emotional story it tells, which resonates with mom consumers. Commercials like this allow women to view a brand as smart, savvy and family/mom-friendly.

Appeal to Shared Experiences. Not only do moms have shared parenting experiences, but they also have shared generational experiences — and there are moments when those two worlds collide. What mom hasn’t watched her own children run around in super hero costumes and princess crowns and not been reminded of her own childhood experience of pretending to be Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia? That is powerful messaging that transcends beyond parenthood.

Does all this really work? It appears to be working for Volkswagen. Even before the game the spot had gone viral with millions of YouTube views.  It’s also ranked at the top of almost every Super Bowl ad review list, leaving Ryan Rudnansky, featured columnist for Bleacher Report, to state, “The ad is not only ingenious in setting up things for the car at the climax, but also strikes a nerve (or a funny bone) with the general public, something all great ads do.”