When Mad Men’s Donald Draper chats about the 1960 Volkswagen ad with his team, he’s rightfully awed. This introduction of the bizarrely shaped auto to the American market was far from the norm. In those days, most car ads looked something like this or this, and while other companies were producing their largest cars ever – advertising “wide-track” steering and selling it with models sporting tuxedos and cocktail dresses – Volkswagen said we should “think small” and that their car was a “lemon.”
For the rest of the decade VW kept their unconventional ad campaign rolling. Unafraid to do full-page advertisements featuring their Beetle from many years back (their design hardly changed in 10 years), Beetles floating in water (the unique design was almost water tight), and touting how their car was often the cheapest to buy new and the most costly to buy used. Their game of turning seeming faults into benefits was a major hit, and left the other car companies so far in the dust they never really caught up. Here are 20 of our favorite ads from the legendary campaign.
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