It’s a Small World

DDB, Volkswagen ad, 1968

When I was in school, I was taught this: if you want to sell the cake, show the cake. And, then I was told to break that rule when needed. A great example of this is the comparison of an Edsel ad and a classic DDB Volkswagen ad. The Edsel ad, while trying hard, is, well, stupid. It shows the Edsel, tells us some nice information, and begs us to buy one. The 1961 Volkswagen ad confidently sends the message that “you’re cool enough to get it.” It’s the same tactic that Starbucks uses when it makes cups with only an icon, or creates a faux language for the sizes of the cups. This lets us feel that we’re part of a special group, and we “get it” because we know what venti (Gigantic and will make you shake) means.

I’ve heard people argue about “intelligent design” and evolution. The Volkswagen ads prove that evolution is not true. If it were, then car ads would now be even better. But alas, they look more like the Edsel ad than VW. I don’t really understand the “intelligent design” idea. The Volkswagen ads are intelligent and they are designed. This must what they mean when they talk about intelligent design.

Showing the cake: Edsel ad, 1958

DDB, Volkswagen ad, 1960s

DDB, Volkswagen ad, 1960s

DDB, Volkswagen ad, 1960s

DDB, Volkswagen ad, 1960s

DDB, Volkswagen ad, 1960s

DDB, Volkswagen ad, 1960s

DDB, Volkswagen ad, 1960s

DDB, Volkswagen ad, 1960s

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One Response to “It’s a Small World”

  1. Steve Says:

    I often walk around my neighbourhood and marvel at the courage some homebuyers, developers and architects must have had during this era.

    The mid century modernist homes really stand out from the bland suburban mock tudors and phoney colonials. It was a gutsy move to buy them in the 50s and 60s, let alone build them.

    You’d think this “foot in the door” of good design would’ve led to better residential architecture. Instead, these gems are being torn down and replaced with gigantic, generic boxes.

    So much for the evolution of good design.