Aishwarya Ramesh
Advertising

Volkswagen's tribute to Beetle garners buzz online

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.

Andy Warhol's ad for the Beetle
Andy Warhol's ad for the Beetle
Image Credit - Christie's

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.

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#ad Dá dois tapinhas na tela se você também ama o Fusca! 🇧🇷👇🏻⁣⁣ This baby - iconic!⁣ ⁣⁣ I come from a family of car aficionados.⁣ ⁣⁣ My dad has always been a collector of cars.⁣ ⁣⁣ My brothers have followed in his footsteps and if that wasn’t enough, my boyfriend and HIS dad and brother collect and restore antique cars.⁣ ⁣⁣ All these men in my life have asked me what my favorite car was from those full garages and while I appreciated many, I was always quick to answer: the Beetle!⁣ ⁣⁣ Of course, “the Beetle” could mean a number of different things depending on when I was asked.⁣ ⁣⁣ There was my dad’s lime green 1976, tropical and fun like the clothes he wore.⁣ ⁣⁣ There was my brother’s metallic 1970 Beetle, blue and shiny like his eyes.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ And there’s this one. 1970, red and fiery like me. No wonder it’s my favorite of all!⁣ ⁣⁣ While it hurts a little bit to say goodbye to the @VW Beetle, it feels good to know that it was such a fun part of my family life.⁣ ⁣⁣ I know everyone has a Beetle story to share, and since writing mine has nearly brought me to tears, it makes me that much more excited to hear about yours!⁣ ⁣⁣ Tell me your favorite Beetle memory and tag #TheLastMile so we can say Farewell, Beetle, together!⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ 🇧🇷⁣⁣ Eu venho de uma família de amantes de carros.⁣ ⁣⁣ Meu pai sempre colecionou automóveis.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Meus irmãos seguiram e meu Boy @leoazevedo, o irmão e pai dele colecionam e restauram carros.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Esses homens sempre me perguntaram qual é o meu favorito e minha resposta é automática: o Fusca!⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ E “o Fusca” podia significar varias coisas:⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ O Fusca verde-limão 1976 do meu pai era extravagante e divertido como a personalidade dele.⁣ ⁣⁣ O metálico de 1970 do meu irmão era azul e brilhante como seus olhos.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ E esse de 1970 é vermelho e fogoso como eu. Não à toa é meu favorito!⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Dói um pouquinho dar adeus ao Fusca, - ele sairá de linha! - mas é gostoso saber que ele foi uma parte tão integral da minha vida.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Todo mundo tem uma história com o Fusca e estou empolgada para ouvir a sua!⁣ ⁣⁣ Me conta sua memória favorita com ele (se for em Inglês eu te reposto!) e use a hashtag #thelastmile para darmos adeus ao Beetle! ⁣ ⁣ #publ

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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.

VW Kommandeurwagen - one of the older models of the Beetle
VW Kommandeurwagen - one of the older models of the Beetle
Credit - vwheritage.com
1965 Volkswagen Beetle
1965 Volkswagen Beetle
Credit - vwheritage.com
The Millionth Beetle to be produced
The Millionth Beetle to be produced
Credit - vwheritage.com

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.

CREDITS

CLIENT: Volkswagen

CEO: Scott Keogh

SVP, Marketing: Saad Chehab

Senior Director, Strategy & Comms: Greg Tebbutt

Director, Brand & Marketing Comms: Jennifer Clayton

Manager, Advertising: Jeffrey Sayen

Specialist, Brand Advertising: Ladan Rafei

AGENCY: Johannes Leonardo

Chief Creative Officer: Jan Jacobs

Chief Creative Officer: Leo Premutico

Executive Creative Director: Jimm Lasser

CD / Art Director: Laura Longstaff

Art Director: Chris Luu

Copywriter: Brandon Holliday

Design Director: Charles Watlington

Junior Creative: Austin Haas

Sr. Project Manager: Loren Lee

Head of Integrated Production: Maria Perez

Group Executive Producer: Benton Roman

Executive Producer: Rebecca O'Neill

Senior Business Affairs Manager: Cindy Gines

Business Affairs Manager: Joe Bringuier

Business Lead: Ben Muldrew

Management Supervisor: Mal Gretz

Account Executive: Stephanie Loucas

Group Strategy Director: Mary Bakarich

Head of Communications Strategy: Meg Piro

Senior Comms Strategist: Erinn Morrison