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.
Dominik Imseng has written a book that includes an in-depth history of the “Think Small” ad, including many interviews.
Dustin Hoffman starred in a VW TV spot during this era: