For a piece of pop culture on wheels, you can’t go past the Volkswagen. I grew up in a family of 8 kids. We had a 1955 Chevrolet. But for the older siblings getting to school it was the Volkswagen Kombi van. And so I have a soft spot for Volkswagen. Here’s a selection of Volkswgen television commercials featured on The Inspiration Room.
Volkswagen has its origins in 1933 when Adolf Hitler asked Porsche to redesign their vehicle for the common people. With the arrival of war the factory in KdF-Stadt was used to manufacture the Type 81 Kübelwagen (“Bucket car”) utility vehicle and the amphibious Schwimmwagen for the German forces. After WWII KdF-Stadt was renamed Wolfsburg and the factory became a key factor in the rebuilding of West Germany. With the help of New York advertising agency DDB (Doyle Dane Bernbach), the Volkswagen soared into worldwide popularity. Ads designed by art director Helmut Krone and copywriters Julian Koenig and Bob Levinson entered popular culture along with what was to become known as the Beetle or Bug.
Two classic print advertisements from this era are “Think Small”, championing the benefits of a small car, and “Lemon”, promoting the quality control processes of Volkswagen.
“The Volkswagen missed the boat. The chrome strip on the glove compartment is blemished and must be replaced. Chances are you wouldn’t have noticed it; Inspector Kurt Kroner did. There are 3,389 men of our Wolfsburg factory with only one job; to inspect Volkswagens at each stage of production. (3,00 Volkswagens are produced daily; there are more inspectors than cars.) Every shock absorber is tested (spot checking won’t do), every windshield is scanned. VWs have been rejected for surface scratches barely visible to the eye. Final inspection is really something! VW inspectors run each car off the line onto the Funktionsprüfstand (car test stand), tote up 189 check points, gun ahead to the automatic brake stand and say “no” to one VW out of fifty. This preoccupation with detail means the VW lasts longer and requires less maintenance, by and large, than other cars. (It also means a used VW depreciates less than any other car.) We pluck the lemons; you get the plums.”
Volkswagen currently uses the tag line, “Das Auto”, translated in English as “The Car”. The previous tag line was Aus Liebe zum Automobil (For Love of the Car).
Volkswagen TV Advertising Reviewed On This Site
Check out television and print advertising campaigns using the Volkswagen Category.