How to build instant brand recall using one simple truth

Toddler dressed as supermanMy son wore his Superman pyjamas to pre-school every day for three weeks.  Somewhat embarrassed, I told his teacher that I did wash the treasured PJs each night, but she just laughed and assured me that this was quite normal, and we just let him get on with it.

Most parents have seen their toddler caught up in some fantasy character, whether it be Tinkerbell, Superman or even Darth Vader.  It’s a universal truth; something that creates a club to which parents of toddlers belong.  And while they may forget later, if prompted, they’ll remember their own little superhero and smile.

And this is exactly what Volkswagen captured with their Darth Vader ad.  They have capitalised on a single insight, a universal truth that makes their audience connect with the brand on an emotional level.

Truth is a powerful way to create a relationship with your target market.  Facts and figures can add credibility and support a brand promise, but if you can tap into a universal truth and connect on an emotional level, you’ll be remembered.

Of course, finding that insight isn’t usually quick and easy.  It’s the result of strenuous strategic interrogation and a solid understanding of the target market.


  1. Pat Pughe-Parry on March 27, 2013 at 08:58

    VW has always had this knack. Remember David Kramer and the Volksie Bus way back when.

    Nice article thanks.

  2. Ingrid on February 9, 2013 at 17:08

    As adults we completely lose the ability to believe in fantasy like kids do but we never forget what it was like when a story was read to you and you literally could disappear into the picture on the page and be part of it.
    Being an adult so has its downside… That ad triggers that memory of how you could actually ‘be’ that fantasy character

  3. fabiog on February 7, 2013 at 12:21

    Yeah, true! You had open my eyes in a new way to interpret this ad.
    I have no child so i can’t know it, but I remember that i did the same when I was little 😀
    So this ad get a great connection with a family target!

    Anyway I know that studies confirmed that the most famous ads have child and pets… because make the people say “aaaww” 😀
    The direction, the time, (not so long), the music and the story… all is great!

    Personally I think that a “little” Darth Vader is so cute!!!
    Great post Ann Druce

  4. Jennifer Smith on February 6, 2013 at 11:44

    Ann you have hit the mark with this comment. However trolling for and parsing out these insights is the hard part and can take a long time, or at least time dedicated to thinking through which universal truths would be appropriate for our brands. This is often time that is begrudged by busy marketing executives as it doesn’t feel like hard work when it is in process. As marketers we have to stop and smell the roses, and then come up with ways to make that scent and the insights we have gained, work for our brands.

    • Ann Druce on February 6, 2013 at 16:52

      Yes, it’s so true that in advertising, the finished product (be it marketing strategy or the creative product) is often misleadingly simple.

      It only looks simple because it is right. And it’s right because it’s the product of research and reflection, trial and error, and a good dose of old-fashioned hard work.

      And that’s why major multi-nationals pay handsomely for the apparently simple corporate logos and pay-off lines that have come to identify their brands.

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