How to do a Volkswagen ad

A while ago, I wrote a post on a new creative model, citing Bernbach’s revolutionary model back in the late 50’s. It got me reminiscing about DDB, and how much I love the agency, the brand, the network, the work… I was fortunate enough to work for DDB in Dublin, and whilst the agency had its own unique Irish identity, it was also unmistakeably part of that advertising behemoth whose reputation for creativity and vision permeated through every office around the globe.

Of the many innovations within the ad industry, DDB also provided ammunition for a plethora of guides on how to ply our trade. ‘Remember those great Volkswagen ads’ was one. It contains, as the title implies, a veritable smorgasbord of brilliant VW ads. One of my favourites is an ad with the headline: How to do a Volkswagen ad. (What must consumers have thought about VW ads that the brand was confident enough to run an ad about them?) The ad was a DPS.  On the right hand page was a space for a pic and some body copy. On the left hand page was the aforementioned headline and 6 pointers:

1. Look at the car.

2. Look harder. You’ll find enough advantages to fill a lot of ads. Like air-cooled engine, the economy, the design that never goes out of date.

3. Don’t exaggerate. For instance, some people have gotten 50 m.p.g. and more from a VW. But others have only managed 28. Average:32. Don’t promise more.

4. Call a spade a spade. And a suspension a suspension. Not something like “orbital cushioning.”

5. Speak to the reader. Don’t shout. He can hear you. Especially if you talk sense.

6. Pencil sharp? You’re on your own.

And my point?

It is, of course, a great ad. It’s also great advice on how to do a great VW ad. But, more importantly, it’s great advice about how to approach any ad you do.

It’s how I approach briefs and it’s how I encourage others to approach them, especially younglings. The answer, the truth, the idea, call it what you will, is always in what you are trying to sell. If you can’t find it, you haven’t looked hard enough.


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Filed under Advertising, Ideas, Inspiration

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