Why Volkswagen’s 2013 Super Bowl Ad MIsses the Mark, Especially With Women

Let me start by saying I think Volkswagen's advertising is brilliant.  I've written about their TV commercials many times on this blog with nothing but praise.  Their advertising is full of real people we can all relate to, and is genuinely emotionally engaging.

So I was disappointed by Volkswagen's 2013 Super Bowl Get In Get Happy commercial (being previewed now) featuring a strange white guy walking through an office speaking in a Jamaican accent.  The general complaint about the commercial is that it is racist.  I'm not sure if I would call it racist.   (Volkswagen says they tested it with over 100 Jamaicans) 

Is it original?  Yes.  Is the sticky bun line funny?  Yes.   I just don't think it makes a  genuine emotional connection.   I just can't relate to that freaky dude.  

Why the Volkswagen 2013 Super Bowl ad misses with women

One of the reasons it misses the mark with women is because, well, there are almost no women in the spot (I counted two).  But there is a scene where the freaky guy walks up to a woman and says, "Julia, turn the frown the other way around."

Ruh Roh.

Here's a tip for men everywhere – if you want to really piss off a woman, walk up to a woman who looks serious or unhappy and say, "Smile!".  

Or even better, "You'd be prettier if you smiled."  Let me know how that one works out for you.  

Google "men telling women to smile" or "women don't like being told to smile" and get ready for some foul language.   Women feel very strongly about this.   Men don't walk up to other men and tell them to smile.  So why do they do it to women?    Guys, your intentions may be good, but women do NOT see it that way.  

When a guy walks up to me and says, "Smile!" I feel like a dog being asked to perform a trick.  Why do I have to pretend to be happy?   Why am I not allowed to just sit and concentrate or be serious?  

Some men say it's because they are trying to make you feel better.  Then why not say, "Bad day?"  Allowing me to share a genuine emotion is going to make me feel better than plastering a fake expression on my face just to make you feel better and get you to leave me alone.  

For all the men thinking this is just me or that women need to lighten up – do the Google search and see hundreds of articles about how much women hate this. 

Where's the great, "Oh my gosh that is so true!" moment?

Whether it's surprising and delighting a pint-sized Darth Vader, or a dad writing down a car's mileage in chalk on the driveway, thwarting his son's attempt to sneak off with the car – Volkswagen is the master of the "Oh my gosh that's so great/true" slice of life moment we can all relate to.  

And that's the main reason why this ad misses the mark with me.  It just didn't hit that emotional chord.  What about you?  Is this going to be a major hit or a miss?     

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