Funny, a little weird, catchy, Iconic and revolutionary. Volkswagen has always played a level above when it comes to their marketing and advertising. Today’s VW ads are still breaking new ground. They carry on the tradition started in 1959 with their first groundbreaking ad, working with legendary ad agency DDB. They introduced realistic photographs rather than idealistic retouched ones. They got rid of beautiful backdrops and women posing along the curves of the vehicle. They even, for one of the very first times, began speaking to the reader as a friend, not a mark or customer. The ads were simple, striking and slightly self-deprecating. And they were light years away from any other car advertising at the time. To take a closer look at the DNA and the evolution of the VW ad, we’ve ranked what we think are the top 10 best vintage VW ads of all-time.
You can’t put 7-foot Wilt Chamberlin in a VW. But here is a list of all the thing you can fit into it. That was the premise of the 1966 ad “They said it couldn’t be done.” One of the many times VW will use self-deprecating to show their car’s benefits.
Known for its humor, this ad grabs you with the seemingly absurd headline to draw you in. Then it tells you about all the benefits of owning a Beetle, specifically the unlikelihood that you’d ever run out of gas.
Carving out its own space at the dealership, the part van part station wagon Volkswagen Wagon attracted a lot of attention. And nearly 50 years later, VW is bringing it back with a few upgrades.
Easy starts in the winter. Good maneuverability in the snow. There wasn’t a better way to highlight the benefits of the Volkswagen Rabbit than by asking, “How does the man who drives the snowplow drive to the snowplow?”
Understanding your consumer is something Volkswagen has known since the start. If you own a Beetle, you might be a little wacky or a lot quirky; this ad celebrates our differences. Be yourself.
Great visual. Sadly, VW did kill the bug on July 30, 2003 when the last Beetle production line shut down. There has been some talk of a new Beetle being added to the VW electric model lineup, but none of it is official. Still, we have hope!
Interchangeable parts, longevity and of course creativity. This ad speaks to the creative heart of the VW consumer and the smart buyer who trusts in the German-engineered investment.
Self-deprecating (again) and timely, Volkswagen plays off America’s fascination with the space race.
It never looked like a Cadillac or a Ford. In fact, it didn’t necessarily even look like a car. So, Volkswagen addressed the potential fears consumers might have had right in its headline: Lemon, The copy goes on to explain VW’s meticulous inspectors and preoccupation with detail, putting German-engineering on the map. Only one ad is more iconic than the lemon.
The power of honesty and creativity combined to give the “Think small” ad the memorable innovation, style and design VW would be known for to this day. Cars weren’t small or creative and neither were the ads that sold them. Then in 1959, suddenly they were.