Ad of the week – Volkswagen

by Stratton Craig

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Volkswagen’s brand image is well-established, and a key component of the company’s continued success in the difficult European automotive market. The brand has become synonymous with ideas of safety, reliability and a family-friendly drive, thanks in large part to the down-to-earth, confident tone of voice in each of its adverts.

A recent Volkswagen print ad, which appeared in Australia, was produced with the aim of promoting the brand’s aftersales services. The advert is dominated by a large, complicated diagram. It depicts the engine of a car, and no less than 18 individual components are listed with amusing names, like ‘Shuttlecock’, ‘Button Mushroom’, ‘Horse Shoe’ and ‘Cup Holders’. At the bottom of the diagram is a single line of copy, reading: ‘Some things are best left to the experts’.

The simple, friendly copy is fun, but it gets its message across perfectly.

This is no new phenomenon, as the same laidback but assured style can be seen in the iconic ‘Lemon’ advert, which promoted the Volkswagen Beetle in 1960. Beneath a large image of the car (which looks to be in perfect shape), the ad begins:

‘This Volkswagen missed the boat.

The chrome strip on the glove compartment is blemished and must be replaced. Chances are you wouldn’t have noticed it; Inspector Kurt Kroner did.’

It proceeds to list the number of Volkswagen employees at the brand’s Wolfsburg factory who are dedicated to inspecting the cars at each stage of production. The advert concludes with the now immortal automotive line:

‘We pluck the lemons; you get the plums.’

The use of ‘lemon’ to refer to a poor-quality car quickly caught on, as did Volkswagen’s reputation for producing premium quality vehicles, and similarly impressive adverts.

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