Advertising ostentatious economy – Ad Age’s best ad of all time
[tweetmeme] In 1959, Bill Bernbach oversaw Julian Koenig and Helmut Krone’s immortal ‘Think Small’ VW ad. They had single-handedly taken on the ultimate symbol of US consumer society: the huge, outsized, inefficient chrome-and-metal Detroit cars.
The VW Beetle was the antithesis: small, unchanging in its design, and economical. Selling this would be no mean feat.
And arguably an even harder job than most realised: After visiting VW’s production facility in Germany, Koenig and Krone told Bernbach that they hadn’t come up with any new ads but the marketing
problem was now clear: they had to
“sell a Nazi car in a Jewish town.”
Bernbach was unamused by this, and set them to work trying to solve the challenge of attractively positioning ostentatious economy in a world of ostentatious excess. They solved the problem using the classic David and Goliath approach: Goliath expected a physical fight, David knew he couldn’t compete directly so changed the fight to a slingshot competition without telling Goliath. VW did the same: Knowing they couldn’t compete directly with the huge, inefficient Detroit cars, they changed the fight to economy and frugality.
A game only they could win.
A lot of green/sustainable marketing managers lay awake at night fearful that their ‘economical’ products will drown in the torrent of bigger-faster-cheaper consumerism. It’s an irrational fear. The problem was solved 60 years ago. And it’s a problem that will be ‘solved’ again, and again, and again.
It’s a simple equation: The ‘Think Small’ ad is an expression of the product’s attributes.
“Advertising doesn’t create a product advantage. It can only convey it.” — Bill Bernbach
It’s in the marketeers’ gift – along with the ad agency’s planning department – to define a product’s advantage. So don’t shy away from the economical nature of your green/sustainable product – with the world demanding green/sustainable solutions you have a wonderful gift to give.
And 60 years ago, Bernbach found a wonderful way to give it.
HUMAN BEHAVIOUR – AND HOW
TO CHANGE IT
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