Doyle Dane Bernbach changed the way we see Volkswagen

I’m continuing the Mad Men theme here, apologies. At the moment I’m re-reading “Mad Men Unbuttoned: A Romp Through 1960s America” by Natasha Vargas Cooper. I recommend you have a peek.

BUT. This is something that really stuck out at me – how ad agency Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) changed the public’s very perception (and sales records) of the Volkswagen Beetle.

From its inception, the ad campaign increased sales by 500,000 per year. It hit back at critics who found it a lesser vehicle when compared to the bigger American cars available at the time. With only seven paragraphs and the simplest of illustration, people found themselves buying a (formerly) undesirable car. If you just read the copy, you’ll know its effectiveness.

It was ranked to be the best ad campaign of the twentieth century.

Said Bernbach art director George Lois of the campaign:

“We sold the Nazi car in a Jewish town by junking all the rules of car advertising. It could have only happened at Bill Bernbach’s agency.”

Picture from ADEN Japan


The Beetle’s popularity could only increase from there.



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