Print ads are an artform. They are the oldest form of advertising, dating back to cave dwellers (We like to think those cave paintings are for a wooly mammoth barbecue joint). Magazine ads were the highest form of art in advertising in the 1960’s. TV was still in its infancy, radio was strictly to reach mass amounts of people, and newspapers were for getting your message out on a daily basis. Magazines though. The magazine ad was a chance to impress and make a statement.
Word War II was fresh on America’s mind in the early 60’s. The resentment against Germany was still very strong. Just listen to this discussion from the first season of Mad Men:
If you read our posts on a regular basis, it’s no secret that we love ads that make you think. Sure that scene is fictional, but it’s not much of a stretch to imagine a similar conversation taking place on Madison Avenue when the ad debuted. Volkswagen is taking a huge risk in declaring its product a lemon at first glance.
After you read the text of the ad, it’s clear VW is going to great lengths to ensure you don’t have to deal with a lemon of any sort. In 2013, it isn’t uncommon to see ads pull a bit of a redirect on the viewer. In 1960, a foreign car company just did not take a risk like that. Just listen to Don Draper in that scene. He’s absolutely flabbergasted at the angle VW has taken. How good is this ad? It’s 50+ years later and we’re still talking about how interesting it is. If advertisers take the time to really plan an ad, creating something that will inspire advertisers in 2063 can still be done.