By on January 24, 2013

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Considering that it seems as though every other commercial on television follows the doofus male wise female plot, the new VW Passat commercial released just in time for the run up to the Super Bowl is hardly the most egregiously misandrist (yes, Virginia, despite what your spellchecker says, it is a word). With a tagline of “Pass down something he will be grateful for”, the ad shows a father in a shirt and tie teaching his son how to throw a baseball, in front of a Passat sitting in their driveway. Completely clueless about the mechanics of throwing overhand, but convinced of his knowledge of the subject, dad has form that makes “throwing like a girl” a compliment by comparison. He looks like a cross between someone putting shot and a gooney bird trying to land. The son dutifully imitates dad’s form, but with a skeptical look on his face. Neither can get the ball anywhere near the target.  I’m not sure the ad is on target either.

This isn’t VW’s first attempt at a little father-son humor. Their “Darth Vader” Super Bowl ad last year was found to be endearing by millions (though I thought it had a touch of cruelty in it), and a number of people see warm humor and not misandry in the current Passat ad. On the other hand, that’s not a universal assessment and the negative reaction to the commercial by some has me asking the question: just who is Volkswagen trying to sell Passats to with this ad in the first place?  There also appears to be some pushback from men who don’t like patronizing companies that patronize or demean them. Rather than sell them Passats, the commercial might be harming the VW brand with men.

Dr. Helen Smith is a Tennessee based child psychologist who works with violent teens. Her husband Glenn Reynolds is a law professor in Knoxville. Dr. Helen, as she apparently prefers to be called, is that rara avis, a woman who not only likes men, but is willing in these oh so PC days, to swim against the stream of so-called gender feminism and actually decry male bashing.

A reader sent Dr. Smith a note about the commercial, prompting her post, Can dads do anything right?, asking her readers how they think the ad portrays men and boys. Of more relevance to TTAC and our audience here is the comment her original correspondent made, “I have no idea how this will sell cars, or to whom.”

To be sure, not all of the reactions, from men as well as women, have been negative. In a 100+ comment long reply thread to Smith’s posting of the ad, a number of people found the ad inoffensive, even humorous. A few people were happy that the ad showed a father and son actually engaged with each other (lo how the might have fallen). Still, many men, and even some women were offended at the portrayal of yet another incompetent father. Even more interesting to me as a car guy was the number of people who reacted by saying that they were so offended by the ad that they will no longer even consider buying a Passat or other VW product. It reminded me of how some folks like to use the term Government Motors in describing why they won’t buy that company’s products. Actually, at least a couple of the comments say they won’t buy GM products and now they’ll do the same with VWs.

Now I’m sure that some of you are saying, “so what if some troglodyte right wingers are offended? Times have changed. White males aren’t in charge anymore. Who cares what a bunch of bitter clingers say?”

Who cares? Ferdinand Piech maybe, though he might be too arrogant to notice. The United States is a key market in Piech’s delusion of grandeur plans for VW’s multimillion unit expansion by the end of the decade, and while marketing consumer goods in America does tend to target women, who are indeed the deciders in the vast majority of consumer purchase decision in the U.S., the single most important part of the North American light vehicle market, pickup trucks,  is almost exclusively marketed to men. VW isn’t the only company that knows that boys imitate their fathers. Unlike the boy in that Silverado ad, though,  the boy in the VW ad doesn’t play with a toy truck. Volkswagen doesn’t sell pickup trucks in the US market.

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Perhaps the VW brand is deliberately avoiding a big burly male marketing image, showing men being domestic, not quite so aggressively male, because their product line is directed at women and domesticated males. When was the last time you saw a Volkwagen commercial that touted one of their cars as a canyon carving autobahn brenner? Maybe, at least in North America, Audi is VAG’s brand for masculine alphas and VW is their car for women and beta providers with adolescent rockstar fantasies.

So what do you think? Does the ad offend you. Do you think it will cost VW sales?

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks – RJS

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101 Comments on “Is VW’s Target Audience Beta Males or Alpha Females?...”


  • avatar
    graham

    The only thing missing from the ad is a glimpse of the kid’s “second Dad” watching from the window. Not that there is anything wrong with that…but seriously, I think it gets the viewer’s attention, at least once or twice. So in that regard, it has to be considered a successful marketing attempt.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    Perhaps I’m too secure about my Purpose, but wasn’t the father deliberately teaching the kid the wrong way to throw? To protect his Precious?

    • 0 avatar
      graham

      The ad’s tagline of “Pass down something he *will* be grateful for” would seem to go against that interpretation.

    • 0 avatar
      Ciriya.com

      Yep. At least someone here gets it.

      • 0 avatar
        ringomon

        While I think that would be a better commercial, it’s not what this commercial is. It just doesn’t jibe with the tag line. If he really could throw, then he could pass that down and be proud of it. The only interpration is that the dad is not able to pass down athletic ability, but at least he has the car to give his son.

        TO have your interpretation the commercial would need to set it up way better. The kid throws the ball hard at first. Father barely catches it (saving the car from a dent), looks back at car, loosens his tie, and say “no no son, like this…” at which point he weakly throws it into the ground.

      • 0 avatar
        ringomon

        …although I guess you could say he’s not proud of himself for faking it, just to protect his car.

        But that seems to start to be a stretch based on how it’s presented. And he could just move the car if that’s what he’s trying to avoid.

  • avatar
    michal1980

    I’ve seen the ad, and while my initial reaction was; oh look another company bashing men, it quickly changed into: what is this ad trying to say?

    I still have no idea what the point they are trying to make was/is.

    To quickly concluding, while it wont prevent me from buying a VW, it did nothing to sell on either.

    • 0 avatar
      helius

      I believe they’re trying to say that dads teach and pass on a lot of things to their sons (habits, mannerisms, looks, the way to throw a ball, heirlooms, cars, etc). The sons will, when they grow up, realise that quite a few of these things are undersirable/wrong/etc. But unlike those things, this VW car will be something the kids will desire when they get their driver’s licenses.

      The ad is also (not very subtly) suggesting that the car will be reliable and inexpensive enough to maintain that the family will choose to keep it for the 8-10 years it takes for the kid to grow up.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        “The ad is also (not very subtly) suggesting that the car will be reliable and inexpensive enough to maintain that the family will choose to keep it for the 8-10 years it takes for the kid to grow up.”

        As a former VW owner, this is why the ad falls flat for me.

      • 0 avatar
        azmtbkr81

        “As a former VW owner, this is why the ad falls flat for me.”

        Seems that long term ownership of a VW could be just the thing to spark a strong interest in an electrical engineering career for Junior – I think the ad really hits home.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        Reliable and cheap to maintain? A VW? Building up hopes like that is truly cruel. To the parent, not the child.

    • 0 avatar
      tatracitroensaab

      I’m kind of tired so the first thing I noticed was not the idiocy of the throws but the dubious claim of the ad that praises Volkswagen reliability. Between all of the beetles and vans out there I’m sure that the claim is true, but really????? Volkswagen has improved their reliability in recent years but “German engineering” has a long way to go. I found their ad in that regard rather deceptive

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    I’d say this is one of those ads that’s so clever, only advertising people understand it. But so what? It probably get people talking about it, and that brings awareness of the product. The target audience does not have to understand the ad perfectly, so long as they remember the product being advertised.

  • avatar
    tmkreutzer

    Love the Chevy truck ad – but wouldn’t it have been so much better if dad would have had the same coat as the doll (excuse me, action figure) and if we had caught a glimpse of a mom in hot pants running up to him as he got out of the truck?

    I’m ambivalent about the VW ad. Us real men don’t care about that kind of thing.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Shouldn’t the boy have been parking his truck at peewee football practice so he could relive his glory days or installing a tonneau cover on his toy truck? Maybe tailgating the other toy cars? That’s what the typical urban cowboys do in their LTZ Silverados.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Anyone who uses the phrase “us real men…” probably isn’t VW’s target market anyway.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    I’m 53, married, father of 2 girls – oldest in college and I use to own a VW. It was a 2008 GTI that I kept fot 4 years before I decided to trade it – why? well, got tired of the hard ride, kids complained about lack of room in the back and I was looking at expensive maintenance coming up. I now have a 2011 Ford Taurus SEL that a “stole” (got it for $19,900.00, 17K miles, VERY clean – 1 owner). So, looking at things from a former VW owner’s view, I think the add is stupid. WTF does a dork trying to play catch have to do with a de-contented, dumbed down, bland sedan? My take is most people think they’re buying a poor man’s Audi, but in fact, they’re buying a Camry wannabe.
    Speaking of adds, the one with the dad and the little girl in the Subie, NOW that gets me – I don’t see how any father could watch that and NOT relate to seeing their little girl drive off by herself for the first time.

    • 0 avatar
      Dirk Stigler

      This. I still go to YouTube to watch that Subaru ad once in awhile, though in real life I turned down the Legacy in favor of a Ford Focus (Legacy had excessive road noise and I am a gadget geek so MyFord was a big selling point)

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        I like Subaru’s ads, their cars, not so much. I drove VWs, though I rarely see any good ads for them anymore. You just have to remember, cars and car ads are entirely different products, made by different companies for different purposes. They don’t really matter, except possibly influencing other people’s uninformed image of your car.

        Once, early in my driving days, I bought a car that I’d never seen in any ads at all. I rarely saw another one on the road, either. That was a funny feeling– as if I was driving an imaginary car! all I had to go on was my own direct experience, but that’s the most trustworthy way of knowledge. For handling, responsiveness and uniqueness, that NSI 1000 TT was the best car I ever had.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Since we’re on the subject of car ads, and you mentioned the Subaru ad with the little/big girl in the driver’s seat, it reminded me of all of the other Subaru ads that were total WTF? moments.

      Particularly annoying were the ones about leaving the old Subaru somewhere out in the field to return to rust, and the other one where the folks in the Subaru become a part of the local 4th of July parade accidentally. Or the one where the self absorbed tourist forgets his sunglasses (hidden in his hood), but has to travel all over BFE to realize this. To me, that said nothing good about Subaru owners/drivers. That was the opposite of what should have been broadcast.

      The little/big girl ad erased much of that, as anyone who has raised their child(ren) to driving age can relate to that first time you let them go in a car. This spoke much better of Subaru owners/drivers than the other ads.

      But the good news is, they’ll soon be running the ads where Subaru will donate some amount of money to a charity of your choice. Nice to know that you just paid THAT amount of money over what the deal was really worth, just so you can feel good. Again, it makes Subaru owners/drives feel good, at least in their own minds. As someone who volunteers for nonprofits, it would make more sense for you just to donate directly.

      This VW ad? I don’t know WTF they were thinking. I think they were going for the cheap laugh, but it really is demeaning on so many levels. Not that I was going to pony up for a Passat anytime soon anyway, but now I do have a bad taste in my mouth from that ad.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    I blame the “Mad Men” ideal that (whether accurate or not) had led us all to believe that until recently only manly cigarette smoking and scotch swilling men could do a damn thing right in this world and wormens needed to know their place and act pretty.

    Our entire “liberated” society has now turned around to erasing any positive traits of masculinity to show us all how we’ve evolved beyond that. Men aren’t the heads of the households anymore, they’re bumbling retarded pets of the all-wise female matriarch. They can’t do anything right, and constantly evoke the ire of their ever frustrated female caretakers, becoming nothing more than another child that needs to be constantly set straight.

    …but then again I’m an unapologetic alpha male who doesn’t have much of a place in our advanced society.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Probably because car advertising is primarily aimed at women. Women buy more stuff, including cars, than men do and even when not purchasing are a very strong influence on the decision.

    • 0 avatar
      Ciriya.com

      Spoken like a man whose wife wears the pants.

      • 0 avatar
        FJ60LandCruiser

        Nope. I was smart enough to marry a woman who lets me make the decisions and appreciates traditional gender roles.

      • 0 avatar
        Ciriya.com

        Cool story bro. Guess you mistook Leave It To Beaver for a documentary. the idea of “traditional gender roles” even being a concern to you is beta proof positive. oh, and one more thing: Let’s see if you sing the same tune when you have a daughter, or would you rather any daughter, real or hypothetical, simply defer to whatever man happens into her life as well?

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        Cirya – there’s a bunch up in your pants you may want to take care of… Why are you throwing so much shade? It’s as if no one with a daughter can disagree with your viewpoint?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @FJ60LandCruiser: Agree completely.

      If you want to know what’s wrong with our society, start with the “doofus male wise female plot” that is playing out in real life across the country. When half the kids are growing up without their original father – or any father – it’s no wonder they can’t figure out how to be a man.

      The real lie in the ad is the claimed durability of the Passat; my 02 Passat was terrible.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Just because he can’t throw a baseball right, doesn’t mean ‘he can’t do anything right’. Judging from his neighborhood and car in the driveway- I would he probably did all the right things in his life. More so than the ‘alpha male’ who has to haul gravel in his pick-up truck. Now that guy probably made all the wrong choices early on in life and is now stuck in a life of menial work.

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        … or perhaps the gravel hauling neanderthal is a successful small businessman who made some excellent choices in his life, and believes in working just as hard as his employees to increase his company’s revenues. Sheesh – come out of the city every now and again… the perspective you gain will probably enlighten you.

      • 0 avatar
        FJ60LandCruiser

        No, the alpha male would have the nice car, nice house, and young wife. The beta male portrayed in this ad would be some low level office drone kissing as much a__ as possible to keep his job–since he lacks any real aggression to excel.

        He wouldn’t have any of those nice things, hell, if he could aspire to own a vee-dub instead of a 10 year old Civic to drive himself from his foreclosed starter home to his drab cubicle is an accomplishment in itself.

        The attractive, athletic, intelligent, aggressive alpha people from high school and college don’t turn out to be hauling the betas’ gravel and trash. They turn out to be their bosses, because unlike the boymen of our current generation, they have the balls to get ahead and take what they want.

    • 0 avatar
      Tick

      Brands like these definitely aren’t targeting “men”, they are targeting “boys”.

      “Maybe, at least in North America, Audi is VAG’s brand for masculine alphas and VW is their car for women and beta providers with adolescent rockstar fantasies.” …about sums it up.
      VW (and Subaru for that matter) obviously have their target audiences picked out. When I think of a VW Passat driver, all I can remember are the fleets of 20 somethings in college that all drove the same black VW passat or Jetta, with the same stupid Dave Matthews sticker on the back window.

      Frankly, I’m gonna stand-up with FJ60LandCruiser here and say that this costant portrayal of men as inept boobs isn’t helping our society. We as men aren’t being shown anything positive about our sex. Especially as a white male, I’ve been the model oppressor throughout middle school, high school and especially college. It’s no wonder that men aren’t sticking around to be dads, but instead staying adololescent boys for their entire life.

      Atleast this ad showed a dad spending time with his kid

  • avatar
    missinginvlissingen

    “offended at the portrayal of yet another incompetent father”

    I’m offended by the suggestion that this is an incompetent father. He may suck at throwing a ball, but he is out there with his kid, trying. That sends a good message to kids, instead of “I’m bad at throwing a ball, therefore I won’t do it with you.”

    If this ad is aimed at women/moms/wives, then it is portraying an excellent dad, not an incompetent one. Because any dad who gets home from work and goes right out to play with the kid is going to be appreciated by his wife, big time.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Yup. As the saying goes- “dance like nobody is watching”. So waht if the dad is a klutz? He is out there tossing the ball and enjoying himself. He is not afraid to look bad. That makes him better than all the other ‘Alpha males’ who are vegetating in front of the TV watching football, or yelling at their sons in Little League.

      • 0 avatar
        Les

        Um, it actually doesn’t look like he, or his son, are enjoying the experience at-all.. and that makes it look like he is doubly incompetent as a father in my eyes.

        “I have no idea what this ‘throwing a ball’ thing is all about, I’m totally not into it, my son’s not into it, but dammit we’re gonna do it. ‘Throwing the ball’ is a Thing, it’s something fathers and sons Just Do; I have no idea why, but I read it in an issue of ‘Enlightened Parent’ magazine so it must be some positive reinforcement sorta thing.. which is, you know, positive.. for his reinforcement. How many more times am I supposed to throw this thing before I’m done?”

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      You may be right, but this is a car ad. “I’m the kind of guy whose a complete incompetent at picking cars, but darnit, I’m gonna do it anyway….. And you know what, despite that hunkering proof of incompetence in my driveway, my wife loves me anyway…….” :)

      • 0 avatar
        afflo

        Remember… not every guy is a “car guy.” A car is just another tool, and one that is necessary. The Corolla and Camry remain unremarkable car by most enthusiast standards, but are huge sellers because they are seen as sensible choices. Here’s the bit that many forget:

        Even people who aren’t interested in driving dynamics often buy cars for image. A car that projects an image that is sensible, savvy, financially smart will sell to people who wish to perpetrate that image for themselves. How many people bought hastily-converted pickups with wide-swinging doors and cramped rear seating NOT because they needed the strength of a truck frame or off-road capability, merely because they didn’t want the minivan “image?”

    • 0 avatar
      Lumbergh21

      Since we are on the subject, the truly most offensive car commercial out there has to be the Toyota commercial where the man wants something “fun” (why are you at a Toyota dealership!!), but the wife wants something reliable. The Sales person says something like look around everything fun is reliable or some clap trap, and the man’s brain siezes up, giving the woman (his wife?) a chance to make fun of this stupid annoying lump of clay she has brought in with her. Now that commercial is offensive and several levels. While I do not enjoy the VW commercial, at least he is out there trying, and how many kids wish they had a father who at least tried and took interest in them. And how many wives wish they had a husband who is involved in the family.

  • avatar
    dts187

    I saw the ad and thought it was a pretty successful attempt at humor. My girlfriend and I both chuckled lightly and briefly.

    I don’t see how it’s bashing males at all. It’s not saying that the father “can’t do anything right”. If anything, it’s reaffirming his purchase of the Passat.

    Seems like everyone always needs to get their panties in a bunch.

  • avatar
    cwallace

    Showing a dumb husband on TV all the time means that their spouse made a dumb decision to marry him. More people probably see things this way than the ad-makers realize.

    I think the advertising industry at large is still trying to work its way out of the binary way men are portrayed. We are either aggro manly-men doing pushups with a jet ski on our backs, or “domesticated men” in the way a draft animal is “domesticated.” Old Spice is the former, and Toyota has the “my husband is such an idiot, am I right, girls?” demographic sewn up.

    Having wee ones in the house, I see my share of commercials on the preschooler networks. Some of these are interesting, as they go beyond the token effort of putting a quarterback on a detergent bottle. The diaper makers know that I have opposable thumbs and proudly use them in the care of my children, so they show dads competently using their product and enjoying their kids. My wife particularly notices these ads, and they resonate with her, too.

    (And then Lysol comes on and shows some buffoon trying to change a diaper on the kitchen counter while a pot boils over and the smoke alarm goes off. Baby steps, cwallace, baby steps.)

  • avatar
    jeoff

    I think it’s funny, but it doesn’t make me want to buy a VW, and as not one of the most “manly” of men (beta-male?), it would not make me feel good about buying a VW. By the way, I think the recent infiniti ads were worse. –show BMW guy being a jerk + show inifiniti guy being a bigger jerk = buy infiniti?

  • avatar
    dcars

    I don’t think that German Businesses have any respect for the US or it’s culture. The ad insults our athletic ability and intelligence. The guy is standing in front of his car playing catch with a hard ball?

  • avatar
    hreardon

    Well, considering that we’re sitting around discussing the advertisement, it has clearly done its job…one way or the other.

    In other news, there are already discussions going on about the new Merc CLA teaser trailer on the web with Kate Upton: is it trashy? Regardless, it’s got people talking which is what Mercedes wanted.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    The Passat ad is missing the kid suddenly slinging a fastball into its fender, denting it.

    It could have been a nod to VW “Wife” ad that mentions how a new fender for the VW costs only $24.95 plus labor.

    Passat fenders still cost $24.95, right?…Right?

  • avatar
    galloping_gael

    Usually fly by anything with a Ronnie byline on it, but had to check in when I saw this already had 20 comments. Everyone seems to be eagerly deconstructing the semiotics of the ad, unsure as to what it “really” means. It means it’s probably another successful VW ad, from a company that has had no shortage of successful ads for as long as I can remember.

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    it would have been funnier if the kid had better throwing mechanics than his dad. vw would have had to change the tag line, “Pass down something he will be grateful for.” but they would have gotten their product associated with a father who cares and is involved with his son even if he is imperfect. to me that would have been a better ad although it probably would have not generated the same quizzical looks.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      So more like…

      [Dad]: *throws reasonably decent pitch*
      [Son]: *throws back.*
      [Dad]: *Ducks as Son’s wickedly awesome fastball comes at him*

      Rather than the comically sad display we saw in the ad?

      Yeah, that probably would’ve gone over a bit better.

  • avatar
    DDayJ

    Maybe the ad is trying to subtly say “no really, our cars will last beyond the warranty period. Trust us.”

  • avatar
    Boff

    I’ve thought a lot about the doofus male/wise female thing(or the milquetoast male/harpy female as one often sees). It must be successful or why would so many agencies independently utilize the same meme? It does have more than a small grain of truth in many relationships, which is an essential component. But more than that, the meme speaks to the fact that men can handle a little self-deprecation and women can’t. (Half of male culture is taking the piss out of each other for good-natured sport). As such, the meme is successful because it represents a view of relationships that men and women can actually agree on!

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      It also works because right now, more new cars are purchased by women than men. We men should be thankful that we don’t have to watch half naked male models washing cars in slow-mo. I’d much rather watch dufus dad ads!

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Maybe I’m just completely dense, but I don’t see the hullabaloo about this ad either way. I’m slightly embarrassed for the father, learned nothing about the Passat, and didn’t have a single thought about new age beta male vs. old school alpha male in our modern PC society.

    It’s just another bland mind numbing ad that reinforces my decision to follow my programs on ad-free Netflix.

    Interesting article, though, Ronnie. Except for this odd statement:

    “Now I’m sure that some of you are saying, “so what if some troglodyte right wingers are offended? Times have changed. White males aren’t in charge anymore. Who cares what a bunch of bitter clingers say?””

    ?????

    • 0 avatar
      fatalexception04

      I’m kinda surprised no one really picked up on the fine print in the commercial regarding VW and how they are their are more of them on the road than any other make with over 100,000.

      That claim is a complete joke considering the fine print says “based on Polk global registrations of 2001 models or older in 48 countries”

      Of course 13 year or older cars will probably have over 100,000 miles. Additionally, how many of the 48 countries lack competition from the other large manufacturers and how does that apply to American consumers considering we tend to get a different product compared to our global counterparts?

      If VW wants to make that a marketing claim, then they should be applying it to the American market. Which they can’t do since they don’t have the most cars on the road here.

      Of course your typical American consumer will completely buy into this, since we don’t tend to read the fine print and believe these claims.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        I’m sure Toyota and GM will be selling cars in most of those 48 countries. Read the “best-selling cars around the world” posts on TTAC and you’ll see a lot of both, especially Toyotas.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      “Interesting article, though, Ronnie. Except for this odd statement:

      “Now I’m sure that some of you are saying, “so what if some troglodyte right wingers are offended? Times have changed. White males aren’t in charge anymore. Who cares what a bunch of bitter clingers say?””

      ?????”

      You must be new here. There are certain authors and commentators who see everything through politically tinted glasses. It gets old fast.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Not new, I know exactly what you’re talking about. This was a polite way of asking what the hell that statement had to do with the proverbial price of tea in China.

  • avatar
    fatalexception04

    I’m kinda surprised no one really picked up on the fine print in the commercial regarding VW and how they are their are more of them on the road than any other make with over 100,000.

    That claim is a complete joke considering the fine print says “based on Polk global registrations of 2001 models or older in 48 countries”

    Of course 13 year or older cars will probably have over 100,000 miles. Additionally, how many of the 48 countries lack competition from the other large manufacturers and how does that apply to American consumers considering we tend to get a different product compared to our global counterparts?

    If VW wants to make that a marketing claim, then they should be applying it to the American market. Which they can’t do since they don’t have the most cars on the road here.

    Of course your typical American consumer will completely buy into this, since we don’t tend to read the fine print and believe these claims.

    sorry for double post

  • avatar
    Summicron

    I never made it to any metaview of societal evolution.
    I’m just pissed every time I see the ad and it twangs the “OMG BALL HIT CAR – I GET KILLED” nerve in my inner child.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    Seems to me that VAG is just that much more an appropriate term for VW corporate.

  • avatar
    Ciriya.com

    I love how all the frustrated betas show up to bitch that VW is bashing men. Men’s Rights Activists(TM) are usually either single or whipped in real life, or they’re also the ones complaining about how Nice Guys Finish Last(TM).

  • avatar
    Skink

    The dumbest thing about this ad is the notion that, of all viewers, conservatives would be most offended by it.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      The same conservatives who are forever telling minorities and women to ‘get over yourself, it’s just a joke’, seem to be the first ones to get offended when the joke is (seemingly) on them.

  • avatar
    Tinker

    My wife asked “What are these idiots trying to say?” To which I replied, “I have no idea, but I think you can assume they didn’t say it well.”

  • avatar
    andyinatl

    I guess i’m in a minority, but the thought of father bashing never came across my mind while watching that ad. I for one is very tired and sick of the dumbed down male ads of $45K-$50K GMC/Chevy/Ram/Ford trucks plowing through mud at 60MPH, having few tons of gravel carelessly dumped into pristine bed or pretending that unless you buy “This” truck you’re not American. Those ads are doing far more damage to male reputation than harmless VW ad.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    An automaker made a lousy car commercial. It happens. And sure, the doofus husband cliche is getting old at this point, but I would hesitate to get too frothy about it. To do so is to stray into the territory of the Men’s Rights Activist. These morons constantly confuse contradiction for persecution, and you really don’t want to be mistaken for one. On that note, I’d avoid the derisive use of “domesticated” that you’ve got going on here. Unless you don’t sleep in a bed, and you hunt your food with a club, you’re “domesticated”.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    I think that VW is targeting Alpha males. . . that are into males. By proving true Dan Savage’s claim that it gets better. Much better. Or at least it gets worse for the heterosexual boys. The Mad Men life of good looking guys in good looking suits, enjoying constant sex and booze and parties, with no shrill b*tches ruining the fun, is not dead. It has just moved to the gay neighborhood. Don’t get me wrong, I am attracted to women. But in our current, and Ronnie is right on this, misandrist society I am sometimes tempted to find one of those religious right anti-gay counselors and see if he can work the magic the other way. However, I can tell you that no amount of counseling will get me to buy a VW.

  • avatar
    ronbo56

    I watched the spot without audio a couple of times before watching it with sound. I do this often because we frequently see spots on muted TVs or without paying full attention. The best spots work without audio, and work even better when the sound is added back. Obvious examples include Apple “1984″ and Honda “Cog”. With just the video I thought the spot made no sense – are doofus dads a demo for any product? With the tag line I got it, and I think “Give him something he *will* appreciate” is a clever way to highlight the longevity of the Passat. Still, the spot finds a cringeworthy way to make that claim.

    More to my point above, anyone who doesn’t hear the v/o is likely to miss the context for the doofus dad and take away a completely different sense of what the spot intended. If VW buys time for that spot in a low-attention environment like the football playoffs it will have no one to blame but itself if it post tests (and performs) badly.

    PS: Is this really so different from last year’s consumer-sourced Chevrolet spot in which a college bound kid is ecstatic over the car he thinks his parents bought him, only to find that their real gift is a dorm fridge? Same tag line works here, no?

  • avatar
    yarg28

    I get sort of tired of people saying that a successful ad campaign is one that gets talked about. Hogwash. I thought this commercial (as well as the new notion that weak men are useful) was rubbish. I see many commercials that are talked about negatively and hear responses like “i wouldnt buy that product just because they treat my like i’m stupid”. It seems more likely today than ever that companies can actually HURT their brand by poor commercial strategy. This commercial was at best a weak attempt at humor. My family was pretty indifferent to it although; i personally did notice that they are once again targeting men to look ridiculous. Then again, i’m not a marketing genius. I’m just a consumer. What would I know about what I like?

  • avatar
    olddavid

    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  • avatar
    k9H20

    This is a smart commercial, it messes with our expectations. Men are to be tough, dirty, and detached. Dads especially are masculine and greasy and skilled in whatever they are shown doing. Commercial culture informs us that Americans are all great at sports; practically born playing baseball. So showing a dad engaged with his son in such a familiar setting, totally failing…is silly. The end bit referring to the Passat is just a punchline. It is pretty clever, and in my opinion, not meant to be a critical commentary on men, femininity, sexuality, family values, or subverting crischin ‘mericans. Side note: they very subtly create concern for the car by placing the action right in front of it. At any moment you think the kid is gonna put the ball through the window.

  • avatar
    jz78817

    I don’t have kids or anything, but I saw this commercial on TV and I think it is one of the most insulting things I have ever seen. There are a bunch of kids out there who would be ecstatic to have a dad who plays catch with him (even badly.) The notion that it’s better to leave your kid with a car that is likely to be a shitty money pit by the time he can drive it than it is to actually *interact* with him is just a shitty thing to say. If I didn’t hate VW enough before this, I practically despise them now.

  • avatar
    skor

    VW, the ride of beta males. I’ve had this impression of VW for a very long time…..which is the reason I’ve never owned a VW.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    Art is just imitating life. A good portion of males really are becoming pussies. I don’t blame females, liberals, etc. I blame other men for not making the effort to be good fathers. Say what you want about the Dad in the advertisement; at least he’s THERE.

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      Or they’re just remaining spoiled little boys.
      Don’t have to get all misogynist here.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I think it could be a combination of all of those factors. I don’t think its simple enough to say “its the missing fathers/single parents” or “its the media” or “its the liberals and communists”. Life just isn’t so simple.

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    To all the people commenting on this VW ad and being offended/insulted/upset/confused allow me to present you a collective…

    “Lighten up Francis.”

  • avatar
    Dan

    A prissy, women’s brand with prissy marketing to women? Stop the presses!

    I only wish VW would have gone this direction about 10 years sooner than they did. It would have saved me one new B5, and 26 days back at the dealer in the 18 months before I threw my hands up and ate the loss.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Wasn’t that when VW was concentrating on selling Golfs to gays by running ads where a gay couple drove around collecting furniture from curbs with their hatchback? They were lauded by the LBGT community for it at the time, but the end result was their changing the name back to Rabbit for a while in the hope of attracting the occasional straight customer.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    I thought it’s pretty funny. A little cringe inducing, because it skewers our sports-obsessed culture perfectly. If you can’t stand a little ribbing, that’s your problem.

  • avatar
    afflo

    I like it on several levels:

    1. Being a good dad has a lot more to do with spending time and putting in the effort with your kids than your athletic prowess… this guy is clearly not gifted athletically, but (since he’s still not out of his work clothes), he gladly jumped right in to spend time with his kid… and surely he knows he can’t throw a baseball, but being there for the kid is more important than looking a bit silly in the front yard.

    2. Indicates the desired customer: Nice house (implied at least – you can’t see much of it), big well-kept lawn, brand new car in the driveway, dad is well dressed and groomed.

    3. Tying the two together – it’s a midsize family sedan. Implied is that it’s a safe buy for sensible, professional family man… Think of Harper Lee’s Atticus Finch – the father who couldn’t throw a ball with his kids, and the kids were embarrassed of him for not being the working-class “manly” men, until they realized the values that make a father.

    4. It’s refreshing that it’s NOT yet another “Tought truck fer the werkin’ man,” or “Perfect car for the PTA mom!” ad. Lookin’ at the guy, you think white collar, management; this car is aimed squarely at the upper-middle class: classy, understated, Euro “pedigree” without being flashy or vulgar, and more sensible than an “entry-level luxury.”

    The discussion, as well as the barrage of pickup ads I see here in Texas, bring up a question for me – when did “masculine” come to mean blue collar, low culture?

    • 0 avatar
      Ciriya.com

      +1000, but to answer your question with a question, why the hell did all of the rhinestone cowboys show up at TTAC? I mean yeah this site has a bit of a conservative lean, but come on, I thought the commentariat was supposed to be the BEST AND BRIGHTEST. That automatically excludes men’s rights activists, angry white men, overbearing sports dads, paleocons and racists who think that anybody owning Bimmers and Benzes besides upper management white men devalues the brand. This place is turning into Autospies.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    As the father of 3 boys and someone who was never the ” big jock” I laughed my butt off when I saw this commercial. That could totally be me except the vehicle in the background wouldn’t be a VW. Best car commercial in along time.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    The GM ad is pure gold compared to the cr*p that was the VW ad, however, regarding both, I wish we could go back to the days of car adds actually focusing on the car.

  • avatar
    mcc.pj

    I dunno, seems more to me that it’s playing on parents’ insecurities about being imperfect parents, and offering up the car as a security blanket, not taking sides in a gender war.

    But then, those who are looking to be offended are pretty good at finding it. ‘Help, help, we’re being repressed!’

    • 0 avatar
      Lumbergh21

      “Come see the violence inherent in the system!”
      I was not offended by this commercial, neither was I or my dominant wife impressed by it. After thinking about it more and seeing the commercial several times, I actually thought it was sweet, the father playing with his child even though he had no idea what he was doing. My other thought being that the kid was in for a rude awakening once he got to school, and haven’t either of these guys seen how a professional baseball player throws a ball? It really wouldn’t be that hard to watch a clip from a game on-line if nothing else.

      However, to say that there is not a lot of male bashing in what few scripted shows remain and in advertising is to bury your head in the sand. I guarantee you that there would be moral outrage at a “my wife is such an idiot” approach to marketing, but “my husband is such an idiot” seems to be perfectly acceptable.

  • avatar
    mcc.pj

    I hear you, but I do think some dudes have gotten awfully precious about ‘male-bashing’. The ‘clueless husband, nagging wife’ trope has been part of pop culture for at least the last century, if not far longer.

    The idea that we’re living in an age of male oppression is silly. Let’s be real: we’re living in an age where many households expect the wife to earn half the income, and accordingly, they get to call more shots. It’s not like dudes are being told what we can do with our bodies or being denied the right to vote.

  • avatar
    Power6

    Wow overanalyze much? VW just wants to make cute ads that people remember and talk about, and I have to say they have been king at this for some time. I don’t remember many other auto ads, well that Silverado one is great but I never saw it on TV.

    The punchline is that you *expect the father to be good at throwing* and then boom he’s not. Cute.

    I’ve been reading some books in preparation for becoming a parent, the modern father, when present, is more involved with his kids than ever. The old father archetype is the “provider” that takes little interest in the daily lives of his children and more in providing economically. I plan on being involved in my childrens lives and I can’t throw a football to save my life ha, luckily my wife can!

    I think expecting to hand a VW down to his kid makes the guy a bigger tool than his girly baseball throw.


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