Volkswagen Beetle: Case of an ugly duckling that became an office pin up!!

Posted on Sep 23 2012 - 5:00am by Fayaz

The last year’s Beetle ad showed a beetle racing through the jungle amidst a zillion other insects. The Beetle finally stops with a voiceover saying “it has arrived.” The car wasn’t featured anywhere in the ad except for the end which had an outline of the car. It was an excellent trick to keep the viewers hooked on till the end as they kept waiting for the car to appear. The ad was highly influential in making Volkswagen win the CLIO 2012 global advertiser of the year award.

Beetle ads have always reflected Volkswagen’s global vision of being the most innovative high-volume brand. The 1959 Think Small “ Volkswagen series of advertisements were voted the no. 1 campaign of all time in Advertising Age’s 1999 “The Century of Advertising”.However, Beetle’s journey over the years has not been an exactly smooth ride.

In 1950’s, marketing the beetle was one of the biggest challenges of the advertising world. The economies all over the world were teeming with large families and baby bloomer children. The automobile market targeted these big families with big cars. Beetle, on the other hand, was seen as small and ugly. The location of its manufacturing unit at a plant built by Nazis did not do much to build a positive image of the car.

Accepting the preconceived notions and turning them around in your own favour does require some intelligent marketing. Beetle followed the same approach by firstpositioning itself as a small car against its competitors. Then it went ahead and turned the simplicity and minimalism of the car into its Unique Selling Preposition (USP) by a series of “Think Small” advertisements. The print advertisements reflected the brand sentiments with a small image of a black beetle against a huge white background. The text and fine print that appeared at the bottom of the page listed the advantages of owning a small car. The campaign was nevertheless one of the most successful ones in the advertising history. It not only lifted the sales but created something more valuable for Volkswagen; a lifetime of brand loyalty.


Beetle or the Lady bug??

The New Beetle always had the stigma of being a lady’s car attached to it. According to a research site, New Beetle remained the highest selling car among the female buyers in 2011.The affordable prices; small cute rounded corners and the flower vase mounted to the cabinetwere perhaps some of the features that reinforced this image.

Beetle has tried to reposition itself on a number of occasions to cater to the not so fair gender as well. The classic example remains the launch of beetle in India in 2009, where it targeted the young married couples with the tagline of “Fittingly Expensive” gift.Volkswagen conducted a research, in which it found out that the purchasing power of the young individuals has increased over the years. Hence they can afford to spend money on purchasing expensive gifts, especially for marriages.

With its latest 2012 edition, Beetle is determined to shed this stereotypical image and is trying to reposition itself as a car for men as well. The curves of the car have been attenuated; the bulbous dome has been flattened and it is in effect a slightly bigger car than the previous version. Oh… and the bud vase is gone too.That’s not all; the 2012 Beetle has a newslap- happyad campaign designed by Deutsch/LA. Set to the tunes of Shirley Ellis’ “The Clapping Song”, the ad shows the patient driver driving around the town and getting high fives from a motley crew consisting of the looming truck driver, the friendly construction worker, the cop on horseback, the cheerful little girl, the well-coordinated dog, and of course, the obligatory pretty woman. A little male bonding over high-fives never hurt anyone. Right?If the sources are to be believed the number of male buyers for the car since Sep2011 was up to 49% which is a one-third increase compared to the last year.

Beetle has indeed come a long back from being called ugly to fetching more flower power and finally renovating itself as a guy’s high-five buddy.

The article is authored by Akanksha Jha from SJMSOM, IIT Bombay. If you wish to write for us then kindly check this.

About the Author

Fayaz is the founder of Marketing Bloggers. Apart from the jibber-jabber he is Human by birth, Engineer by mistake, Marketer by Choice.. That says it all :)

1 Comment so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Abhinav Mishra September 30, 2012 at 9:23 pm -

    Amazing AK! Keep writing!

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.