Volkswagen Beetle: curves are back, not the ads

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AdAge ranks the 1960’s Volkswagen Beetle campaign No.1 in the list of ‘Top 100 Advertising campaigns‘. Many regard it as the ‘Campaign of the century’. Starting with the iconic ‘Lemon’ ad, DDB has done a wonderful job – the advertising for the brand went a long way in creating the halo around Volkswagen Beetle. Even with the launch of the New Beetle (Arnold Communications created the ‘Drivers Wanted’ campaign), the magic was captured in the advertising.

As part of the huge splurge in India, Volkswagen Beetle ads are all over the place. The proposition ‘curves are back’ seems to be a reference to the iconic shape of the car. The press ad says that gorging on a cheese cake won’t make you feel guilty because ‘curves are back’.

The TVC, on air now, was shot with an international crew. What did you think of the TVC?

I think the best comments about these ads would be to revisit the classic work on this brand. The proposition has changed over time (e.g. ‘fun on the outside, serious inside’ in the UK to ‘Drivers Wanted’) depending on the market scenario.

Comments welcome.

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  1. Yes, the old campaigns throw light on what the new one's missing…substance.
    VW Beetle campaigns historically were never about curves (or shapes)…..they just used the shape as a mnemonic to convey a feature-driven product….and in an era where the Beetle was a very unique shape (as compared to the other cars available), they never ever focused on the curves.
    Today, Beetle ads claim that curves are back. Were they ever missing ? Every hatchback these days is curvy….what's more, each car campaign has curvy, willowy females who compensate for the lack of looks (or curves) of the product. So, the thought for this campaign seems superficial.
    When you have a car that is an icon and has become so because of the kind of advertising that it had running for it, the agency has a great responsibility to ensure that the brand's premise is not disturbed. That's where I think the VW Beetle campaign suffers.

  2. Agree …the campaign doesn’t seem to be touching a chord..Looking at the history, Beetle has a stream of iconic ads …VW seems to have loads of money to splurge, but nothing path breaking coming out! What a WASTE of money…am sure the agencies could have done better

  3. bhatnaturally,

    just discovered your blog now. great reading!

    VW have got it wrong with 'curves are back'. Imho this what i think is wrong:

    1) Curves are back is not a strong enough reason to buy a 24 lakh car. In what way is it better than say a Fabia or Figo to command this premium? That is the critical question that needs to be answered.

    2) Curves are back is not a campaignable idea. What do you say next that is continuous and takes this thought forward? Translation of the line into a creative idea in print and tvc struggles to convey any message. I shudder thinking of an on ground event – Twiggy like models gorging on cheesecake, smoke on screen with a product reveal? Or free cheesecake for all invitees?

    3) The Bug is an iconic brand, the largest selling car of all time (hope maruti models have not overtaken it!!). Now wouldn't this last line be a strong enough attention grabber?

    Lastly, Replace VW Das Auto with VLCC and the line works and works better for VLCC! The effort and money put into this campaign could have been better utilized methinks!

    • Thanks for the comment, Avinash. I guess no doing away with Das Auto in India – since it is global line. The first TVC attempted to convey that the 'magic of Beetle' is in India. But this one doesn't.

  4. The latest beetle is as cute as the old one but it has grown up in size. Its a classic and will never be outdated. The pricing is a factor, it a bit too expensive.

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