With its nostalgic ad film ‘The Last Mile,’ Volkswagen symbolically announces that it's going to be discontinuing its iconic range of Beetle cars.
Volkswagen fans the world over were distraught when the company announced that it would be discontinuing its iconic Beetle model. The company made it official by releasing this nostalgia-laden ad film that can be viewed below.
The film itself is rife with references to advertising that Volkswagen has done in the past, including cameos by people who helped the car achieve its iconic status. The video features cameos by celebrities such as Andy Warhol - who created artwork for Beetle ads, Kevin Bacon - whose character drove a Beetle in the film Footloose and Andy Cohen - a talk show host who often posts photos of his Beetle.
The ad is a short film in itself - with a story arc about a young boy and the major milestones in his life; starting with his father bringing home a Beetle for the first time. Eventually, he learns to drive, falls in love and grows his own family, has his own children, who carry on with the same cycle. The latter half of the film has the boy (now an old man) watch on fondly as the car moves forward without him - he bids goodbye with a tear in his eye.
The choice of music for this commercial is interesting too. The video is set to a rendition of The Beatles' song 'Let it be' performed by the Pro Musica Youth Chorus. 'Let It Be' is a song from The Beatles' final album and interestingly, the Beetle also makes an appearance in the famous photograph of the four band members crossing Abbey Road.
The newest ad film aims to highlight the company's move into electric vehicles. Even though EVs are not explicitly mentioned in the ad, there are references to the brand becoming more environmentally conscious. Throughout the ad, there are references to wind power and the closing tagline - 'Where one road ends, another begins' appears to be an attempt for the brand to move forward. This reference to sustainability is important, considering that Volkswagen was embroiled in controversy in 2015. VW was accused of installing devices on the vehicles that allowed them to evade emissions testing. The EV push for VW appears to be an attempt to recapture credibility in the wake of the reputation it lost because of the scandal.
“This animated film pays homage to the imprint this car has made as we make way for an exciting future of electric mobility for the masses,” Johannes Leonardo, chief creative officer, Leo Premutico, told CNBC. “When creating the campaign, it was very intentional that we didn’t put any one person or moment on a pedestal. The Volkswagen Beetle was the great equaliser for society and culture at large. This isn’t one person’s goodbye or a company’s, it’s everyone’s goodbye.”
The second part of this campaign is influencer and user-generated content (UGC) led. Users took the opportunity to talk about their personal ties with the car model and what it really means to them and their families.
According to the website VW Heritage, the Volkswagen Beetle was conceived in 1931. Ferdinand Porsche and Zundapp developed the Porsche Type 12, or “Auto fur Jedermann” (which roughly translates to “Car for Everyone”). By 1932, three prototypes of the car were live and a fourth joined the line-up in 1933 – commissioned by none other than Adolf Hitler himself. He had instructed Porsche to develop a four-seater ‘People’s car’ (literally a Volks wagen.) The term “Volks” had been applied to various Nazi party sponsored consumer products such as the Volksradio.
By the time World War II broke out in 1939, there were only a handful of consumer cars that had been produced and all pending customer orders were cancelled (the focus of production switched from civilian vehicles to military vehicles.) The two vehicles that were predominantly produced during the war were both variants of the Beetle.
Earlier in 2018, DDB Group New Zealand had created these outdoor ads to pay homage to the news that the Beetle was eventually to be phased out in the near future.
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