Volkswagen: Think Small

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Launched in 1960, the Volkswagen Think Small campaign was a game changer. Only 15 years after WWII had ended, Volkswagen realized they needed to separate themselves from the competition in order to succeed. At the time consumers only wanted American made vehicles, especially muscle cars. Rather than going bigger and more powerful, Volkswagen went for a different approach. The Beetle was known as a “compact, and strange-looking automobile.” Volkswagen turned to the Doyle Dane Bernbach agency for a marketing plan.

The Think Small campaign, revolutionized advertising. At the time, most campaigns focused on written copy for the consumer to read and learn about the vehicle. Volkswagen and Doyle Dane Bernbach chose to go a different route and convey a more honest, humorous, and sometimes shocking message.

The ad consists mainly of vacant space with the focus on a small image of the Beetle close to the top of the page. At the bottom of the page, Volkswagen chose to some rather sarcastic copy. Volkswagen knew they had a small awkward car and rather than shying away from the fact, they took the risk to confront it head on. It paid off. The Think Small campaign defined Volkswagen from that point forward.