Classic Beetle ads


Adman Bill Bernbach changed advertising with the now famous Volkswagen ads. His agency in Madison Avenue New York, Doyle Dane Bernbach, was approached by Volkswagen in the late 1950’s to launch the Beetle in the United States. Americans at the time were in love with big chrome and convincing them to buy a simple, small car from Germany was a daunting challenge. Helmut Krone and Julian Koenig (Bob Levenson later replaced Koenig) were the creative team charged with the task. Their first ad was in black and white, used a photograph instead of an illustration and used a sans serif typeface – all this had not been done before. The photo was a little black beetle in the top left corner of an expanse of white. The headline was ‘think small’ (lowercase intended) and the copy respectful to its audience. The success of this ad set the tone for the campaign that followed. The ideas for these illustrations come from the ideas used in those great ads.

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