Volkswagen – “Think Small” (1960)

Volkswagen’s “Think Small” campaign, launched in 1960, is one of the most iconic and successful advertising campaigns in history. The campaign, which aimed to promote Volkswagen’s Beetle model, was a bold departure from traditional car advertising at the time. This article will explore the key elements of the campaign and its lasting impact on the advertising industry.

Background and Context

The “Think Small” campaign was developed by the Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) agency, which had been hired by Volkswagen to promote the Beetle in the United States. At the time, American car manufacturers dominated the market, and European cars were seen as small, underpowered, and unreliable. DDB saw an opportunity to turn this perception into an advantage and developed a campaign that embraced Beetle’s compact size and quirky design.

The Creative Strategy

The “Think Small” campaign used a number of innovative strategies to stand out from traditional car advertising. Instead of featuring glossy photos of the car in scenic locations, the ads used simple black-and-white photography and clever copywriting to emphasize the Beetle’s unique features. The ads were intentionally designed to look different from other car ads, with minimal text and negative space that emphasized the car’s small size.

The Impact

The “Think Small” campaign was a huge success and helped to establish the Volkswagen Beetle as a cultural icon. Sales of the car increased dramatically, and the campaign won a number of advertising awards, including a prestigious Gold Lion at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The campaign’s impact was so significant that it is often credited with helping to launch the “creative revolution” in advertising, which emphasized the importance of innovation and creativity in advertising.

The Legacy

The “Think Small” campaign’s impact on the advertising industry is still felt today. The campaign’s emphasis on creativity and innovation inspired a new generation of advertising professionals, and its minimalist approach to design and copywriting is still studied and emulated in advertising schools and agencies around the world. The campaign also helped to establish Volkswagen as a brand that valued innovation and quirkiness, a reputation that the company still enjoys today.

In conclusion, Volkswagen’s “Think Small” campaign was a groundbreaking and highly influential advertising campaign that helped to redefine the way that cars were marketed in the United States. Its creative approach to design and copywriting, as well as its lasting impact on the advertising industry, make it a true classic of advertising history.

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