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Volkswagen of America ads, 1960–66

Contributed by Nick Sherman on Aug 18th, 2012. Artwork published in 1959.
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Source: http://ateliertally.com. License: All Rights Reserved.

One of the most iconic and popular ad campaigns of all time – the subject of a new book, Think Small: The Story of the World’s Greatest Ad.

From a 1968 interview with designer Helmut Krone:

Krone: […] The only thing different about [the Volkswagen ad layout] was its application to cars—and that’s different enough. I took traditional layout A, which had always existed: 2/3 picture, 1/3 copy, three blocks with a headline in between. But I changed the picture. The picture was naked-looking, not full and lush. The other small change was the copy, which was sans serif rather than serif.

Interviewer: And nobody’d ever done that before?

Krone: Not with that layout, no. It was an editorial look, but with sans serif type.

Interviewer: The look of the copy was very different. The use of “widows” which we spoke of once before.

Krone: I actually cut those “widows” into the first Volkswagen ads with a razor blade and asked Julian Koenig to write that way. I deliberately kept the blocks from being solid, and when I felt that a sentence could be cut in half I suggested it just to make another paragraph.

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Sports Car Illustrated, Nov 1960

Source: https://www.flickr.com. Scan by SenseiAlan. License: All Rights Reserved.
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Car and Driver, Aug 1961

Source: https://www.flickr.com. Scan by SenseiAlan. License: All Rights Reserved.
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Car and Driver, Nov 1961

Source: https://www.flickr.com. Scan by SenseiAlan. License: All Rights Reserved.
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Car And Driver, Mar 1962

Source: https://www.flickr.com. Scan by SenseiAlan. License: All Rights Reserved.
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Car and Driver, Mar 1963

Source: https://www.flickr.com. Scan by SenseiAlan. License: All Rights Reserved.
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Source: http://ateliertally.com. License: All Rights Reserved.
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Source: http://books.google.com. LIFE Magazine, Feb 8, 1960. License: All Rights Reserved.
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Source: http://www.greatvwads.com. License: All Rights Reserved.
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Source: http://www.greatvwads.com. License: All Rights Reserved.
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Source: http://www.greatvwads.com. License: All Rights Reserved.
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Source: http://www.greatvwads.com. License: All Rights Reserved.
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Readers Digest, Mar 1966

Source: https://www.flickr.com. Scan by SenseiAlan. License: All Rights Reserved.

3 Comments on “Volkswagen of America ads, 1960–66”

  1. Mar 18th, 2014  9:11 pm
    Edit

    Dominik Imseng has written a book that includes an in-depth history of the “Think Small” ad, including many interviews.

  2. May 31st, 2015  12:45 pm
    Edit

    Dustin Hoffman starred in a VW TV spot during this era:

  3. May 31st, 2015  2:32 pm
    Edit

    Another book about this campaign, recommended by reader Joe Clark, is Remember Those Great Volkswagen Ads?.

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