A Story of Revolution: Volkswagen Beetle
It is the simplest revolution world ever seen!
In 1931, Austrian genius Ferdinand Porsche and Adolf Hitler designed a car that is known as Volkswagen Beetle. The purpose of Porsche and Hitler was about producing a car that could buy by common people. In 1933, Hitler came to power in Germany.
We know Hitler was a cruel man, maybe the cruelest political leader in history, but Hitler was also a political and artistic genius. He was aware of "What people want?" not just rich ones, also the poor ones. National Socialism was a reflection of his thoughts. He had won his control in Germany with the help of rich people, so he had to think about them. However, the common people would maintain his continuity, so he had to care for them too. Our focus is not on Hitler's help to rich people. One of his many policies will have affected Germany throughout the years. This was the People's Car Project. It was Hitler's pet project for common people, this project was also a part of the German Dream. Hitler's main aim was satisfying the transportation and joy of common people so he could maintain his continuity.
In 1937, the German government under the control of Hitler built a new company in Wolfsburg. It named Volkswagenwerk (People's Car Company). Ferdinand Porsche was in charge of the project. The cost of a car had to be lower than 1000 Mark so it was a hard task for Porsche. In 1938 the first car built and Hitler announced that "The first car of German People is built". In 1939, Beetle displayed at Berlin Motor Show. Unfortunately, World War II started that year. Volkswagen had halted Beetle’s production but produced war vehicles until 1944. After the war, under the control of the British, the company had produced 20.000 cars until 1948. In 1948, German took control of Volkswagenwerk again. After that, Heinz Nordoff -an engineer- was put in charge of the company. However, Nordoff's policy about Volkswagen was a little bit scary for the company. It was a policy about producing one model car. According to Nordoff, the company could gain two advantages of this policy. First, the model would never be old and second, they could produce more solid cars as working on one model. Surprisingly, these new ideas succeeded. After a Volkswagen car bought, it could use 30 years. Nordoff's success also was about the service network. The company had had a good service network for customers.
Between 1950-1960, Volkswagen made 200 changes like water cooling, expanding the window, etc., on the model. Even after those changes, in 1960, the model was still the same in general terms. In 1959, the company was employing 50.000 people and producing around 3.000 cars in a day and 500.000 cars in a year.
In 1958, Volkswagen was not famous in the American Car Market. Causes of bad reputation had been about Nazi heritage, small size and rounded type of Volkswagen. However, everything was changing. The American Rock Star Elvis Presley bought a Beetle –Elves Presley had been a soldier in Germany- while he was returning to America from Germany, then Volkswagen Beetle became famous in America and the company decided to get into the American market. Volkswagen made a deal with American advertising company Doyle Dane Bernbach (DBB). Doyle Dane Bernbach launched a landmark campaign for Volkswagen. This campaign was trying to reverse its disadvantages like the small size and unusual rounded type. The headlines of the campaign were "Lemon" and "Think Small". It was a landmark campaign in American advertising history.
In the 1960s, The American were desiring for the American Dream. American Dream meant a big car, big house, and good public services. However, people were not affording the American Dream, so they started to look for other alternatives. DBB's success had been mostly based on that, they had seen the detail very well. The Beetle was an honest car; it was telling its own story. So, the advertising had to be like that too. It had to be simple, impressive and creative because they were trying to sell Volkswagen to Jews.
They had started to work on campaign and Voila! Think Small created. Page layout had designed minimalist and simplistic. It had been suffused with a white background. A small beetle car in the middle of the white background, the headline and explanations had been down the side of the page and the explanations had been mostly about "Why the small car is good?". The font had been Sans Serif and that was a different point too because Serif fonts had been mostly using in America for advertising campaigns in those days. After this campaign, Volkswagen gained more market share in America, it had become the top-selling import car in America. It was the result of a good campaign that unified product and design. The final result; the German Dream beat the American Dream. In 1960, Volkswagen sold 60 % of its stocks to people and became the public's company.
In 1972, Beetle surpassed Ford's Model T car's longstanding worldwide selling record, then it became the top-selling car of the world. It was sold more than 21 Million between 1938-2003. Volkswagen had continued to produce one model, Beetle, until 1972. After 1972, Volkswagen started to produce sports cars like the Volkswagen Rabbit and after the Rabbit, Volkswagen produced 72 different models.
People's Car now is a huge company. Adolf Hitler and Ferdinand Porsche even couldn't know that… Hitler couldn't succeed to occupy the whole world via war, but he succeeded to occupy the world via a car. n
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