Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Funkengroovin Wednesday - I Watch TV, So You Don't Have To

Anyone who has read this blog knows that Vagabondblogger is addicted to TV, as well as VW's. So why is Vagabondblogger using a Funkengroovin Wednesday to talk about television shows?

I watch it, so you don't have to, that's why.

Before going into my newest and latest discovery, most readers know how important iTunes and the new Apple TV are to me. Suffice it to say, they are as important to Vagabondblogger as the very air she breathes! You may be asking, what does Vagabondblogger download and watch from iTunes? Vagabondblogger's downloads include: 30 Rock, House, The Daily Show, Colbert Report, Charm School with Mo'Nique, I Love New York, The Black Donnellys, and now, Mad Men. (Yes, Vagabondblogger likes just about anything - considering it's not like the repeats running here in Cairo, which are, at least, four years old!)

Mad Men ("Where the truth lies,") on AMC Thursdays at 10:00 PM EST / 9:00 PM CT. A new series set in the early 1960's about men, who work for an advertisement agency, and their families. Robert Morse owns the company and has the final say in all things impotent (no, that's not a spelling error.)

So, what's my point?

The ad men in episode 3, are obsessed by a VW ad in a magazine! They don't understand it - it's confusing them. How can a car company get away with selling cars in an ad titled "Lemon"? The audacity!

Remember, these were the days when it was acceptable for pregnant women to drink, and smoke in public. Cocktails were provided during meetings (pitchers of Bloody Marys), a martini lunch, and more after work drinks were de riguer. (How did they ever get any work done?) Women went to college to prepare themselves for marriage,
not jobs (see - Mona Lisa Smile.)

Not only was it okay to drink and smoke during pregnancy, it was a good idea to have seconds too. (Um, yeah, I made it black and white cause it looks better, and that's what a photo from that time would've looked like.) It was also okay to:
  • Let your kids run around with a dry cleaning bag over their heads (just as long as they didn't muss up the clothing.) Suffocation was not an issue back then.
  • Slap a child upside the head in public.
  • Then ask if he wants "some more."
When someone asked, "Have you seen the candidate?" A wife replied, "We haven't decided who we're voting for yet."

Oooo, and the WASPY behavior - let's not go there, okay?

In episode 3: (Vagabondblogger also takes TV photos, now.)

Quotes here are from the AMC's summary:

"Don, flipping through the latest issue of Life Magazine, happens upon the latest Volkswagen ad: a black and white photograph of the car with the word “Lemon” in bold letters."

Here's a better pic of the original ad, which you can read, as well.

(Oh, Paleese, show us again! Cause we are all clueless!)

"Although the meeting was to discuss Secor laxatives, constipation, oddly enough, isn’t on their minds. The Volkswagen ad, however, is. The men debate whether the copy was a brilliant piece of advertising or whether the ad detracted from the product. “Love it or hate it, the fact is, we’ve been talking about it for the last 15 minutes,” Don says."

now show it again! Gotta show it to the big boss too, for god's sake! Really, a VW ad! How fucking important could that be?)

(Not only does Vagabondblogger ask the important questions, she does the damn research for you, too.)

From murketing.com a blog post titled “Mad Men” Musings.
"The angle part is that the campaign gave a new image to a car that, as Mary Wells summarized in her memoir, had previous been seen as “small,” “ugly,” and “a Nazi car, too soon after the war.” This is alluded to in Mad Men; one character mentions that last time he’d seen a VW, he was throwing a grenade into it."
Let me add to his description: the "grenade" comment was made while the guys were drinking at a birthday party, and find out that the hot new divorcee in the hood, who was seen driving a Beetle, would be joining them. The hostess even drives by the divorcee's house (that would be episode #2 ) and, yes folks, the bug is parked out front. Ahh, those were the days - when there were no seat belts, so the kids could flip-flop all over the car.

The Cheshire Group Inc, Corporate Communications:

"The VW campaign of the 1960s was considered by most experts to be the best in the history of advertising. Gone were the lush settings, the artfully elongated automobiles, the beautiful models. In their place stood the "Beetle," unadorned and unretouched, and almost always in black and white. Most important, ads like "Think small" were achieving record readership scores. Simplicity was proving to be a virtue and relevance a far more powerful persuader than empty flights of fancy."

Top ad campaign of century? VW Beetle, of course

"However, one campaign did much more than boost sales and build a lifetime of brand loyalty. It's the 1960s ad campaign for the Volkswagen Beetle. The ad, and the work of the ad agency behind it, changed the very nature of advertising--from the way it's created to what you see as a consumer today.

What made the VW Beetle ad campaign so radical? Ads before it were either information-based and lacking in persuasion, more fantasy than reality, or relied on the medium's ability to deliver repeated exposure.

Beetle ads, though, connected with consumers on an emotional level, yet also conveyed a product benefit in a way consumers could relate to. Plus, the ads were breathtakingly simple.

Two famous print ads illustrate this. One featured a small picture of the car with the headline "Think small." Text highlighted the advantages of driving the small Beetle versus a big car.

The other presented just the car with "Lemon" in bold type. Ad copy explained that the chrome strip on the glove compartment was blemished and had to be replaced. The take-away was obvious. If this was Volkswagen's idea of a lemon, the Beetle must be a well-built car.

The Beetle ad campaign also stands out for its use of television, which was in 90 percent of homes by the mid 1960s. It may have been a grainy, black-and-white image, but the emotional connection between car and consumer was picture-perfect in Beetle commercials like "Funeral."

Imagine a funeral procession as the voice of the deceased bequeaths his fortune. To each, from his wife and sons to business partners who were wasteful with money, he leaves nothing.

But to the tearful young man in a VW Beetle at the end of line, he says: "To my nephew, Harold, who ofttimes said `A penny saved is a penny earned ... and it sure pays to own a Volkswagen' ... I leave my entire fortune of one hundred billion dollars."

Year after year, the VW Beetle ad campaign conveyed its message of frugality and sensibility with a clarity and emotion the ad world had never seen before.

It's not hard to imagine what happened next. Ad agencies up and down Madison Avenue began imitating the DDB approach to ad making. It became a movement that industry professionals now refer to as the creative revolution. It was in this period in the 1960s when creativity counted most.

Many great ad campaigns have come along since 1900. However, none made a greater lasting impact than the Beetle ad campaign. The industry trade publication, Advertising Age, named it No. 1. It gets an equally strong endorsement here as well."

Free-Essays. com, says:
"One of the most successful ad campaigns of all times happened to be an automobile advertisement. The campaign was for the original Volkswagen Beetle. Everyone recognized the Volkswagen advertisements of the 1960’s. “Volkswagen ads have won a list of prizes longer than an account executive’s expense account.” According to Huston Horn, “They are talked about at cocktail parties, read aloud at the office water cooler, analyzed and dissected in college term papers…” (qtd. in Nelson 225). The beetle is back. So, how are the new Volkswagen advertisements? The new magazine advertisements are relief to the tired eyes of the average magazine onlooker. Most of the ads today are full of clutter, vast amount of colors, and enough print one could mistake the ads for an actual article; the Volkswagen ads have only one sentence, an occasional a small picture of a beetle, and a refreshing solid white background. These advertisements are not simple though; a mastermind has created them. The new ads, as the original ads, deserve to have college term papers written about them. In the November 2000 addition of George magazine, a Volkswagen ad was the centerfold. The advertisement appears to be two blank white pages at first glance. Once one looks at the advertisement though, one notices a sentence at the bottom right-hand page that says, “Just thought we’d give you a moment amid the political hoopla to think about those issues that matter to you.”
The VW Beetle ad was so popular National Lampoon published a take off of it (they were sued by VW too.) See the full ad here.

So, who's the person who came up with this totally insane idea for the VW ad?

William Bernbach

"After Bill Bernbach's death in October 1982, Harper's told its readers he "probably had a greater impact on American culture than any of the distinguished writers and artists who have appeared in the pages of Harper's during the past 133 years." Sixteen years later, Bernbach's impact continues undiminished. And today he emerges as No. 1 on Advertising Age's 20th century honor roll of advertising's most influential people.

Was it only yesterday that a "new" Volkswagen Beetle campaign appeared, one that proudly recalls its Bernbach lineage? Talked to advertising's creative stars lately? Or their mentors? It is still, "Bernbach, Bernbach, Bernbach." His influence is alive and well and ready to help lead the industry through the 21st century.

Bernbach insisted on first learning how his client's products related to their users, what human qualities and emotions came into play. Then the challenge turned to deciding how best to communicate those elements, in TV and print, and capture the consumer's understanding and support.

This is the process that spawned a new genre of TV commercials: Volkswagen's "Funeral" and "Snow plow" stories; "Mamma mia" and "Poached oyster" for Alka-Seltzer; "Visit to Grandpa" plus Laurence Olivier for Polaroid; "Italian wedding" for Rheingold beer; "Mikey" for Life cereal; "Gorilla" for American Tourister luggage; "Card game" and "Sharing," with Jack Gilford, for Cracker Jack; "Burning egg" for GTE; and stop-motion "Contrasts" for Jamaica Tourist Board. This latter technique from art director Bob Gage would shatter Hollywood's hold on the TV commercial "look." DDB's reel became an awesome advertising engine."

This is the guy that the characters in Mad Men would like to copy. Needless to say, Vagabondblogger totally loves Mad Men. How long will Mad Men last? (See, I do ask the really important questions.)

Not long enough for Vagabondblogger, that's for sure.

If you like all things VW, then you'll enjoy this too.
Volkswagen Bus Ads
Volkswagen bus ads and manuals on-line
Remember those great Volkswagen ads?
Classic VW Volkswagen Beetle Ads (VW would never accept this redundancy.)
Beetle Advertsements, from TheSamba.com
Vintage Volkswagen Television Commercials

And, one of the various ads we own:

Since we're talking advertisements, TV, and it is "Back To School" time (and back to work from the summer vacation), I thought it would be cool to see how a TV ad is made. So here's:
The Making of Rubberband Man (Includes bloopers, screen tests, and scenes not included in the commercial - all to the music.)


  1. Vagabond you have truly embraced egypt referring to yourself in the third person :D.....I've always wondered about madmen now I'm gonna check it out tx .....

  2. Got to check out Mad Men! It's awesome. Check out the site - guys from the Sopranos and other great shows are involved in this. I'm a little worried that a "period" piece will go straight down the tubes (been there, seen that happen.) But for a trip back to the past, when life was good, it's great fun to watch.