The first car at the bottom of the world


Doyle Dane Bernbach:


DDB, New York. 1965. An original master proof-sheet from DDB. (45,8 x 28,6 cm). Marked at the bottom: ”Dealer Ad–Newspapers–1000 lines / This advertisement prepared by DOYLE DANE BERNBACH, Inc. for / VOLKSWAGEN–Job No. VWSP-4104” The copy text alters a little bit from the published ad and the copy text is in two columns instead of three as it appears in the original ad. A little bit wrinkly at the bottom of the sheet. (Abbott & Marcantonio p. 47, Holmgren p. 60).
Original proof-sheets were printed by the Agency to verify that the ads were accurate. Those who did proof prints made them as a specimen sheet against the purchaser. They were also used when the ad is sent to the newspaper would publish it, and worked then as a kind of proof that the newspaper could use that benchmark for how the print result would look like. Customers also got these proofs and the ad agency used them for the archive. The edition was often small, maybe 50-100 copies, and most were thrown away after use.
Think Small was an advertising campaign for the Volkswagen Beetle, created by Julian Koenig at the Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) agency in the 1950s. It was ranked as the best advertising campaign of the twentieth century by Ad Age, in a survey of North American advertisements. The campaign has been considered so successful that it ”did much more than boost sales and build a lifetime of brand loyalty […] The ad, and the work of the ad agency behind it, changed the very nature of advertising—from the way it’s created to what you see as a consumer today.
Julian Koenig, who originated many famous advertising campaigns, teamed with Helmut Krone to create the ”Think Small” and ”Lemon” ads for Volkswagen under the supervision of William Bernbach. DDB built a print campaign that focused on the Beetle’s form, which was smaller than most of the cars being sold at the time. This unique focus in an automobile advertisement brought wide attention to the Beetle. DDB had ”simplicity in mind, contradicting the traditional association of automobiles with luxury”. Print advertisements for the campaign were filled mostly with white space, with a small image of the Beetle shown, which was meant to emphasize the simplicity and minimalism of the vehicle and the text and fine print that appeared at the bottom of the page, which listed the advantages of owning a small car.


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