An ode to Beetle: Bidding goodbye to the car that changed Advertising

Think small, dream big, advertise bigger.
It was in 1959 that Volkswagen came up with an ingenious ad campaign for Beetle, giving it an iconic status for years to come. At a time when automotive brands were selling luxury, Beetle broke the record by selling ‘simplicity.’ This refreshingly humble campaign struck just the right chord with the audience. It was a classic case of advertising, which transformed the fate of a product, helping Volkswagen sell over 21 million Beetle cars between 1938 and 2003.

volkswagen beetle think small
Volkswagen Beetle think small campaign by DDB

Nearly 70 years later, Volkswagen bids an emotional goodbye to this iconic model loved by generations. The news was made official with the release of a nostalgic ad film. The last of the ingenious Beetle ads, this film paid tribute to all those that helped shape the Beetle brand and made it great.
The ad film included cameos by:

  • Andy Warhol – the man who crafted the artwork for Beetle ads
  • Kavin Bacon – who gave a cult status to Beetle by driving the car in his film, Footloose
  • Andy Cohen – who led the first ‘influencer’ campaign for Volkswagen by driving around and posting pictures of his own Beetle

Most importantly, it includes cameos by the most prominent ambassadors of the Beetle – the common people. The ad showcases heartwarming instances of how the family-friendly vehicle became a part of the lives of common people and made a difference.

VW Beetle ad campaign - a car for the common people
VW Beetle ad campaign – a car for the common people

It was small. It was ugly. It was cheap.
The Beetle was a Lemon.
But it was easy to push if you run out of gas.
It got you to your destination, no matter what.
It could bring your family together without making a dent in your wallet.
The Beetle cared.

It was this very genuine insight that made the Beetle timeless. It not only brought a revolution in automotive but achieved the impossible. It brought honesty in advertising.

the not so ugly bug - volkswagen beetle
Volkswagen-Beetle-1970-ad showing the features and brand ambassadors of the people’s car, the ugly bug

While the world is still waiting for the next great ad campaign, the Beetle shall be missed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *