Beetle Commercials & Print Ads Changed the Nature of Advertising
The Volkswagen Beetle advertising from the 1960s was and still is some of the best advertising the United States has ever seen. It turned an unknown foreign car into a cultural icon and the most recognized car today.
In the campaign, Volkswagen came across as not taking itself too seriously and was willing to poke fun at itself, and Americans ate this up. The "Think Small" campaign was introduced in 1959 by New York advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) and was created specifically by Helmut Krone, who worked for the company for over 30 years, with the copy written by Julian Koenig, who originated many famous advertising campaigns. The campaign broke away from the advertising norm of that time with its smart, straightforward nature and cleverly understated, down-to-earth copy. Ads of the day were generally dreamy and happy with families and couples happily laughing or having a jolly time. DDB wanted to shake things up, step away from what was expected, and do something different. We're all better off for their big idea.
In 1999, it was ranked as the best advertising campaign of the twentieth century by Ad Age, in a survey of North American advertisements. DDB not only boosted sales for Volkswagen with this campaign but they built brand loyalty and changed the nature of advertising itself.
Below are some of our favorite vintage Beetle commercials as well as print ads from the era.