How did Volkswagen go from its links with Adolf Hitler to becoming the ''people's car?''
From Woody Allen to Woodstock, Little Miss Sunshine to Breaking Bad, the German engineering feat holds a special place in pop culture.
Released in the 1950s, VW's ''Think Small'' campaign for the Beetle remains as one of the most successful advertisements in 20th century North America. The minimalistic style advert was the brainchild of pioneer of modern advertising Helmut Krone. The campaign is thought to be responsible for building a lifetime of brand loyalty amongst consumers.
The reality behind the campaign is that, following the end of World War II, across the Pond, the U.S had become a superpower consumer market and every manufacturer wanted to be part of it. During the age of the Baby Boomer, the need for cars was growing, with more and more American families owning their own. Along came the VW, from Germany, to compete with American muscle cars.
To grab the attention of U.S. buyers, the ''Think Small'' print advert was printed on a white space, with a small image of the Beetle along with text at the bottom of the page highlighting the advantages of owning a small car.
We're all going on a summer holiday
Hippies and chasing the sun, the Volkswagen camper van became synonymous with festivals and vacations. 68 years the the original VW Type 2 was unveiled at the 1949 Geneva Motor Show. 20 years later, images of the young and free hitting the road for Woodstock became synonymous with the camper van.
Surfers from Cornwall to California would hop in their camper vans to chase waves, families would take to the motorways for their summer breaks and spend weeks, even months, in their compact camper vans. The camper van represented a new found freedom in travel.
Take me to the Drive-in
So why exactly do audiences still laugh at the joke in Woody Allen's Sleeper when the character uncovers a 200-year-old Beetle Bug? Because the relic is seen as an ingrained part of American culture.
In the Oscar-winning Little Miss Sunshine, the unreliable yellow van takes the Hoover family to Redondo Beach in California after daughter Olive learns she has qualified for a beauty contest. During the 800 mile trip from Albuquerque, New Mexico, the van which becomes as much a character as the family members themselves.
In now-cult-classic Breaking Bad, the character Marie Schrader owns a new version of the Volkswagen Beetle. Marie is depicted driving her purple Volkswagen which becomes symbol of her feminity as well as her kleptomaniac and slight psychotic tendencies.
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