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.” Contents [hide]
1 Background2 Campaign3 Book4 See also5 References6 Further readingBackground
Fifteen years after World War II, the United States had become a world and consumer superpower; and cars began to be built for growing families with Baby Boomer children and “Americans obsessed with muscle cars”. The Beetle, a “compact, strange-looking automobile”, was manufactured in a plant built by the Nazis in Wolfsburg, Germany, which was perceived to make it more challenging to sell the vehicle (being that the car was designed in Nazi Germany).
Automobile advertisements back then focused on providing as much information as possible to the reader instead of persuading the reader to purchase a product, and the advertisements were typically rooted more in fantasy than in reality. Campaign
Julian Koenig, who started 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 its simplicity and minimalism, and the text and fine print that appeared at the bottom of the page listed the advantages of owning a small car. Book
A 1967 promotional book titled Think Small was distributed as a giveaway by Volkswagen dealers. Charles Addams, Bill Hoest, Virgil Partch, Gahan Wilson and other top cartoonists of that decade drew cartoons showing Volkswagens, and these were published along with amusing automotive essays by such humorists as H. Allen Smith, Roger Price and Jean Shepherd. The book’s design juxtaposed each cartoon alongside a photograph of the cartoon’s creator.