In every advertising class I ever took there was one brand’s advertising that we always talked about; the Volkswagen campaigns of the 50s and 60s. These ads are considered some of the most revolutionary and influential of all time. They were even featured in the hit show Mad Men which is focused on the advertising industry during this time period.
One of the reasons that these campaigns were unique is that were focused more on existing customer retention as opposed to constantly attracting new consumers. This is an idea which is seldom embraced in advertising back then or today. But it is one of the core concepts that drives social media marketing which is why it makes sense that VW would embrace this tool and use it to their advantage. Recently, Facebook introduced timelines which, although they are not available yet, promise to bring more visual engagement to brand pages. In classic form VW was one of the first brands to show what their brand page will look like once timelines come into effect. I was pleased to see this because this brand has been rather quiet recently without any of the innovative advertising that made it a household name. Maybe I just haven’t experienced their creative brand messaging because I am not an existing customer. After all, the new Facebook page will mostly be seen by existing brand fans. I think it would be fitting to explore how VW’s unique approach of engaging with its target audience.
This is one of the first ads in the DDB campaign that started it all. This campaign was named the number one campaign in Advertising Age’s The Century of Advertising. Here, Volkswagen was branding itself as a car that was for the free-thinkers. They were addressing a specific consumer base which is something that very few automobile companies did. Most car companies still try to appeal to the masses instead of pointing out what makes their cars unique or just right for a certain type of driver. The fact that these ads left some people baffled and others intrigued is just what makes them important because the point was to show that Volkswagen was a car that wasn’t for everyone.
This is another of DDB’s famous ads for Volkswagen. By reading the copy you can see that these ads did something that few ads had done before and have done since. This ad hits the reader with a strong visual image and subtitle which draws them in and then the body copy keeps them engaged by being upbeat and interesting. Most automobile ads lead with one foot or the other, they either focus on the visual impact of the car or they focus on impressing the reader with facts and figures. VW does both in this ad. Here they were more focused on engaging new customers because it was still a relatively new brand in the US market.
Here is another ad campaign that does not appeal to everyone. I personally thought that this commercial was hilarious as it parodied the ridiculous show Pimp My Ride on MTV. However, I was to find that many people hated it. This just goes to show that Volkswagen is still loyal to the idea that one size doesn’t fit all both in cars and in advertising.