Volkswagen has long been at the forefront of automotive marketing, dating all the way back to their classic 1960’s ad campaign and persisting for over 50 years through both popular culture and the silver screen. Despite their minimalistic ad style, they’ve been able to create an identifiable cultural persona behind their brand that has been built to last. Although their cars have evolved with time, the culture and message behind the brand has largely remained unchanged through the years. Let’s take a look at some of the Volkswagen culture’s highlights through the years:
Although this is one of the more recent examples of the brand’s use in popular culture, the portrayal of Volkswagen’s early cultural persona was effectively captured in the 2007 AMC hit TV show Mad Men. The show is set in the early 60’s right around the time of the launching of Volkswagen’s groundbreaking marketing campaign. Advertising agencies were baffled by the simple, honest magazine ad as it embraced the perceived shortcomings of the brand and presented them as strengths. The campaign was a far cry from the average car marketing strategy, encouraging viewers to “Think Small” while promoting a practical, affordable, fuel efficient product. Their ads were riddled with humor and presented with a lighthearted, humorous tone which helped set a foundation for the brand’s culture moving forward.
Image from USAtoday.com
Volkswagen’s brand persona had been so well received that in 1968 Walt Disney Productions decided to make a movie giving a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle a mind of its own in Herbie the Love Bug. The car is first discovered when race car driver Jim Douglas walks into a European car showroom to find a salesman abusing the VW Beetle. Jim defends the car only to have it follow him home the next day. The Beetle seems intent on finding the driver love while also winning races and displaying an identifiable underdog personality. In this case the humorous, lovable culture behind the Volkswagen brand was personafied in Herbie, and the film’s success was enough to gain 5 sequals with the most recent being the 2005 Disney film Herbie Fully Loaded. The brand’s marketing history is rich in subtle humor and down to earth personality, making it a great symbol for cinema and pop culture alike.
Image from Brandchannel.com
Although the car is not an actual character in this movie, the use of a 1972 Beetle as protagonist Ren McCormack’s car in the 1984 hit movie and 2011 remake Footloose is a perfect example of the type of culture Volkswagen has come to embody. Ren is a progressive, energetic city boy moving to a small, rural, conservative town where dancing is outlawed. He starts a movement in the local highschool to break the mold, and accept dancing in the town once again. This is a fitting storyline for the owner of a Volkswagen when considering the culture the brand represents. Volkswagen has been breaking molds and setting trends since its 1960s ad campaign, challenging people to think differently about the car industry in the same way Kevin Bacon’s character made the leaders of the small town of Bomont think differently about dancing. Volkswagen has always promoted a fun loving, practical culture, so its use in Footloose is a natural fit and adds to their cultural legacy.
Image from Disney.com
The 2006 animated film Cars and the 2011 sequal Cars 2 feature another Volkswagen classic, the 1960 VW Kombi. The character Fillmore is depicted as an environmentally conscious “hippie” focused on alternative fuel sources. Fillmore’s character embodies Volkswagen’s signature branding as a fuel efficient practical style of car, while also capturing a piece of history with Volkswagen’s iconic status among the hippie movement of the 1960’s. Fillmore’s love for the environment and Jimi Hendrix only help solidify Volkswagen’s status as a pop culture icon. Modern Advertising Volkswagen still to this day has not backed down from its position as a practical, safe, fuel efficient brand, and although the models have changed greatly over the years, they still maintain their humor rich, practical advertising style and culture. We hope that when looking to join the Volkswagen culture you consider Volkswagen of Gainesville for any of your buying needs. Check out our modern day new VW inventory online and come by for a test drive at our Volkswagen dealership in Gainesville, 3737 North Main Street, Gainesivlle, FL 32609. For any questions you may have, feel free to give us a call at (352) 240-0880 – we look forward to hearing from you!
In the meantime, check out Volkswagen’s new commercial airing in the UK for a taste of how the culture has evolved in the modern day: