In the world of advertising, some companies that entered the scene in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, made their mark by branding and putting the spotlight on brands that today, have become household names.

Primarily, ad agencies such as Ogilvy, Benson & Mather, Doyle Dane & Bernbach (DDB), Young & Rubicam and Batten Barton Durstine & Osborn (BBDO) were instrumental in revolutionizing advertising into what we know it to be today; print and television campaigns for companies such as Rolls-Royce, Shell, Dove, Procter & Gamble, Johnson and Johnson, among others, were handled by these Madison avenue agencies.

While each agency had its share of great advertising, one ad campaign that is more embedded in the minds of the ‘baby boomers’ than others, is the Volkswagen advertisements by Doyle Dane and Bernbach.

Back in the 1960s, American cars were known to be large, gas-guzzling vehicles that were highly chromed and expensive to run. Volkswagen had entered the United States market in 1955 and had barely begun influencing the American market with the ‘Type-1’ car. To boost its market share and in some ways, move away from the stigma of being a German car manufacturer in the post World War II era, Volkswagen of America approached DDB for an advertising campaign with a small budget of $800,000. DDB launched the “think small” campaign that showcased the Beetle as a small, cheap and low-maintenance vehicle that could drive around the typical American family.

All the Volkswagen ads that came out from the late 1950s to the early 1970s revolve around the “think small” and the “lemon” campaigns. The “think small” campaign became so famous that it won the award for “The Best Advertising Campaign of the Twentieth Century” by Ad Age.

To summarize the effectiveness and simplicity of the ad campaign, I have rounded up a few of the best ads for Volkswagen, directed by Helmut Krone and written by Julian Koenig for DDB.




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