This month at adHOME, one of our esteemed Account Directors took us back to a time long ago when copywriters were kings. He treated us to the short but powerful documentary: “Remember those great Volkswagen ads?”
This documentary shares the story of the charming, honest ad campaigns DDB World Communications created for Volkswagen in the fifties. The campaign has been widely acknowledged as the greatest and most influential of all time.
DDB took a very unconventional approach to marketing the iconic Beetle to the United States. The car was projected to be unsuccessful in the United States, where consumers preferred larger, American-made vehicles.
Rather than trying to hide the fact that the car is smaller than average, the fact that the design doesn’t change from year to year and the fact that it’s foreign, hugely successful campaigns were built on making these perceived flaws the center of attention. This ingenious campaign strategy brought over 50 decades worth of success to Volkswagen.
The simplicity of these print ads is truly admirable. We love the idea of using copy that speaks conversationally to audiences. It creates familiarity, trust, and ultimately, profit. Some of these headlines are so simple and effective, it makes us realize how difficult it can be to attain simplicity.
Another execution in this series showed featured a blank space covering 90% of the page. The copy cheekily explained that there was no point in even showing the car on the ad, as the model hadn’t changed much in the last ten years.
After reflecting on this documentary, we’re convinced that self-deprecation is endearing and builds trust.
We’re inspired to rethink our flaws and ask ourselves if they really are in fact flaws. This brutally honest, conversational approach to copywriting opens up a whole new realm of advertising possibilities. We may just have to try to bring this trend back in 2017…