vintage, nostalgia and memories


March 12, 2017

23 Remarkable Volkswagen Ads of the 1960s by New York’s Doyle Dane Bernbach

How many brilliant ways can you sell a car?

In 1949, William Bernbach, along with colleagues, Ned Doyle and Maxwell Dane, formed Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB), the Manhattan advertising agency that would create the revolutionary Volkswagen ad campaigns of the 1950s and 1960s.

Bernbach's artistic approach to print advertising was innovative, and he understood that advertising didn't sell products. The strategy was to keep customers by creating and nurturing them as brand ambassadors, rather than attempting to attract the attention of those who were uninterested in the product. Bernbach's team of "agency creatives" was headed by Bob Gage, who hired Helmut Krone, as an art director in 1954.

Krone owned a Volkswagen before the agency pitched for the account. Krone, Bernbach and the first copywriter on the account, Julian Koenig, were impressed with the "honesty" of the car. Krone was an intellectual among art directors - seeking ways to lay out an ad campaign to stand-in for the product itself. He took the simple, straightforward layouts of agency principal David Ogilvy of Ogilvy and Mather and adapted them for Volkswagen. Krone's repeated use of black-and-white, largely unretouched photographs for Volkswagen, (as opposed to the embellished illustrations used traditionally by competing agencies), coupled with Bob Gage's bold work for Ohrbach's, spawned consistently witty and unique print ads that met DDB's goal of making a stark departure from existing advertisement techniques.

The corporate headquarters and factory that produced Volkswagens was located in Wolfsburg, Germany. Because Volkswagen’s advertising budget in 1960 was only $800,000, DDB’s bare-bones, black-and-white approach, coupled with a projected common theme of irreverence and humor, fit Wolfsburg’s needs well. Each Volkswagen ad was designed to be so complete that it could stand alone as a viable advertisement, even without addressing all aspects of the automobile.

Taken as a sign of the campaign's runaway success, research by the Starch Company showed that these Volkswagen advertisements had higher reader scores than editorial pieces in many publications, noting that Volkswagen advertisements often didn't even include a slogan and had a very subdued logo. (Krone didn't believe in logos, and there is some evidence that their inclusion followed a disagreement with the client.) The Volkswagen series of advertisements (which included the 1959 Think Small ad) were voted the No. 1 campaign of all time in Advertising Age’s 1999 "The Century of Advertising."

Following the success of Think Small, the advertisement titled "Lemon" left a lasting legacy in America - use of the word "Lemon" to describe poor quality cars. "Lemon" campaign introduced a famous tagline "We pluck the lemons, you get the plums.

In episode 3, Season 1 of Mad Men, "The Marriage of Figaro", Don Draper and his associates discuss the "Lemon" advertisement at the beginning of the day. Draper is not amused at the ad but nevertheless concedes that it has retained their attention despite appearing in a copy of Playboy. Roger Sterling, his associate, scoffs. Sterling acknowledges the role Volkswagen will play in Germany's new industrialization initiative. Being a World War II veteran himself, he fails to show any appreciation for the advertisement.

1960 Volkswagen Beetle Spare Parts original vintage advertisement. There are 5,008 parts in a Volkswagen Beetle. Each authorized dealer has them all in stock or on call.

1961 Volkswagen Beetle original vintage advertisement. Photographed in black & white negotiating a huge puddle. "Last one to conk out is a Volkswagen."

1962 Volkswagen Beetle original vintage advertisement. Explains why you will never see an over-chromed two-tone Beetle. Photographed in black & white.

1963 Volkswagen Beetle original vintage advertisement. Illustrated in black & white and features each model year from 1949 to 1963. "The Volkswagen Theory of Evolution."

1963 Volkswagen Beetle original vintage advertisement. Recounts the story of Albert Gillis who owned a 1929 Model A Ford for 33 years and chose a 1963 VW Bug as his next new car.

1964 Volkswagen Beetle original vintage advertisement. "It makes your house look bigger."

1964 VW Volkswagen Station Wagon Bus original vintage advertisement. Photographed in black & white. "Got a lot to carry? Get a box."

1965 Volkswagen Beetle outline original vintage advertisement. "How much longer can we hand you this line?"

1966 Volkswagen Beetle original vintage advertisement. Photographed in black & white. Explains the mathematics of how buying a new Beetle is cheaper in the long run than buying a used vehicle at half the price. Innovative marketing strategy given the time.

1966 Volkswagen Beetle original vintage advertisement. Photographed in black & white. "You're missing a lot when you own a Volkswagen." Such as a driveshaft, radiator, water pump or hoses.

1966 Volkswagen Beetle Police Car original vintage advertisement. Photographed in black & white. Purchased by the town of Scottsboro, Alabama for Officer H.L. Willkerson to run parking meter patrol. Rare VW ad!

1967 Volkswagen Beetle original vintage advertisement. "We made the car go faster. And the engine go slower." Photographed in black & white.

1967 Volkswagen Beetle original vintage advertisement. Photographed in rich color. This Beetle floated for 42 minutes. Best copy: "...keep in mind... even if it could definitely float, it couldn't float indefinitely. So drive around the big puddles. Especially if they're big enough to have a name."

1967 Volkswagen Beetle original vintage advertisement. Photographed in black & white. Copy: "Pick the right day to test drive a VW and you'll have the road to yourself".

1967 Volkswagen Bus original vintage advertisement. Photographed in vivid color at the local car wash.

1967 Volkswagen Fastback Sedan original vintage advertisement. Photographed in vivid color. Replacement rear fender: about $37 not including labor. Extremely innovative ad to show a damaged vehicle.

1967 Volkswagen original vintage advertisement. Pictured are the VW Beetle, VW Squareback and the 21-window Bus. It comes in three economy sizes.

1967 Volkswagen Formula Vee car original vintage advertisement. Photographed in black & white.

1967 Volkswagen Squareback Sedan original vintage advertisement. Photographed in black & white.

1968 Volkswagen VW Beetle original vintage advertisement. Photographed in black & white. "Live below your means.

1968 Volkswagen Beetle original vintage advertisement. Photographed in black & white. Now available with stick shift automatic transmission.

1968 Volkswagen Bus original vintage advertisement. Photographed in vivid color. And the beans? There are exactly 1,612,462 beans in this bus!

1968 Volkswagen Fastback & Squareback original vintage advertisement. Photographed in black & white.




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