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Your Shot

Your Shot: In Defence of Pyjama Mamas

Mother London’s Head of Strategy Katie Mackay on the thinking behind Vauxhall’s fabulous new spot

Your Shot: In Defence of Pyjama Mamas

Judging by the media coverage, women who dare to wear their PJs in public are a societal scourge. They’ve been banned from primary schools and branches of Tesco, and have been the subject of more than a few scathing Daily Mail columns. However, a new campaign from Mother London is celebrating the fabulous swagger of the ‘pyjama mama’. It’s a spot that challenges conventions and is notably more fashion-forward than your usual car ad – posh pyjamas as outerwear are quite the thing among the fashion influencer crowd. 

The final spot comes with music video oomph and glamour, courtesy of director Jake Nava, but there’s so much more going on beneath the surface bling. That’s why LBB’s Laura Swinton caught up with Mother London’s Katie Mackay to uncover the strategy and research behind the campaign.


LBB> What was the original brief from the client? 

KM> To launch the new Crossland X SUV, Vauxhall wanted a campaign that would put the brand on the radar of young, modern British families, and that would accelerate their move into the burgeoning SUV market.


LBB> What was the key insight behind the creative and what research led you there?

KM> Almost every SUV advert looks the same. We see the car on an empty road that’s heading towards adventure, with, more often than not, a man at the wheel.  

We decided from the off that we wouldn’t play by the category conventions, and so started looking for a fresh take on the SUV segment that would confidently launch the Crossland X while at the same time, reasserting Vauxhall’s uniquely British perspective. The answer came in car purchasing data and the decision journey. Received wisdom still suggests that it’s the man of the family that makes the final decision as to which car the family will have. The data suggested it was far more 50/50, but our hunch was that in reality, it would be skewed even more towards mum.

Spending time with mums who were in the market for a new car (but definitely not considering Vauxhall) our suspicions were confirmed. They were calling the shots. But they didn’t feel that anyone was really talking to them, nor understanding that they weren’t really looking for just a family car.

As is so often the case, by hanging out with our target audience, we understood what now seems obvious, but like many an insight, wasn’t then. Mums put a lot of time, energy and love into taking care of their families and they wouldn’t change things for the world. But every mum we spoke to also said that it’s not necessarily something they’re proud to admit, but they feel they’ve lost a bit of their identity since having children. 

So, when it comes to the car they’re going to be in day in, day out, against this context, being reminded that they could still have a bit of swagger was really appealing. Sure they wanted a car that ticked all their functional needs, but that it could also have a bit of style and panache and be unashamed about that was compelling. 

We’d found our sweet spot. The Crossland X is a really good looking, functional SUV. It’s a perfect family car in terms of practical and more emotional needs. It speaks to how our modern mums wanted to feel and be - great at raising their children, while still also maintaining the sense of style and swagger they had before becoming a mum.  The trick would be in finding a way to execute that gave this insight a cultural connection and sense of humour.


LBB> Did you speak to many real life 'pyjama mamas' in the process? Any particularly memorable comments or insights that they gave you?

KM> Most mums we spoke to have been ‘pyjama mamas’ on more than one occasion! It’s a moment where they put the kids first and have run out of time to get ready themselves, something they could all identify with, especially with younger kids. 

But it was more the attitude of our Pyjama Mamas that resonated in concept testing in the early stages. We had a line in there “When you’re out buying nappies, at least look like you’re buying champagne” that made our mums feel we got them. For them, it was more than just driving a stylish car or looking stylish, it was about stepping out with confidence in yourself. 

Interestingly, the same women told us we were totally overstepping the mark when we tried to share “real” parenting stories or tell jokes about epic parenting fails. While this was something they’d happily do together, they didn’t want a brand trying to get in on that.


LBB> I LOVE that the ad champions women who are often berated in the likes of the Daily Mail and challenges a dull and widely-held opinion - was challenging the status quo an important part of the strategy?

KM> We wanted to challenge the conventions of the category while leveraging our insight into modern mums - in doing so, every route we explored pushed against the status quo. 

To be honest, we were all pretty dismayed by the treatment that pyjama mamas had got in the media. The more we dug into it though, the more we found champions of the hard-working mums that had made the school run or popped to the shops in their pyjamas. We wanted to rally with them - it felt like a fight that Vauxhall could and should champion. 

That said, we didn’t want to just tackle the pyjama haters head on. We wanted to show the self-confidence and chutzpah of the Pyjama Mamas, while also flipping the conversation to celebrate how much they put their families first.  


LBB> From a gender perspective, this spot speaks to women very differently to the usual car-ad-aimed-at-women. Why was that important?

KM> As an industry, we often berate ourselves for cliched portrayals of 2.4 children families, but in subverting the stereotype we’re often even more hackneyed. For us, it was important to break the conventions of the category and of communications talking to mums. Women don’t stop being themselves when they have children. Yet as an industry, unfortunately all too often we seem to think they do. It was important for us to reflect what modern mums told us they were crying out for - an advertiser that didn’t think they’d lost their sense of self, style and swagger - but that didn’t make them feel like a terrible mum at the same time.


LBB> The campaign also says 'hey, you've got loads of more important things to deal with, who cares if you're in your pyjamas’. I guess you could have gone down the stressed out/frazzled route or this more defiant and fabulous route - why was this the right track to take?

KM> Hate to break it to you, but the mums we spoke to, know and love aren’t stressed out, frazzled or down-trodden. They are balancing the demands of parenthood, work and their lives just fine and don’t need or want a brand suggesting it’s the solution to their juggling act. So, we decided to celebrate them, to champion the mums who’ve had the most stick in the media, and to do so with a sense of humour. Because let’s face it, the world is hard enough right now. 

We wanted an optimistic perspective on modern motherhood that would be as entertaining as it was compelling. And above all, an approach that befitted the perfect balance of style and substance of the Crossland X. 

Category: Automotive , Cars

Genre: Strategy/Insight