If you were ever in advertising, you probably at one point loved VW advertising.
VW has made a lot of great cars (GTi especially) but only the van and Beetle have become automotive icons here in America. VW enabled drivers to live a story in which people on the road were friendly and connected (a story Mini adopted years later to great success). VW manufactured hippy values for the masses. A friendly people’s car.
With the VW van long gone, this brand story was revitalized with the relaunch of the bug in 1998. People again motored around in a friendly looking car that had a flower holder on the dash. Colorful bugs and iMacs seemed to grace every billboard.
That story is now over with the redesign and soon to be launched new Beetle. It’s more aggressive and clearly designed for men to like (and to aggressively compete with the likes of Mini). It takes its design reference from roundish rally cars. It looks like it could beat a GTi in a race (it probably is a GTi under there).
As announced in many places including here, the “cute” bug is dead and with this final decision so is the brand that Ben & Jerry and Jerry Garcia would drive.
I’ve always liked the VW brand and I do like the new bug design (I’m an ex-Mini owner). I hope they move a lot of bugs and other models because I’d like “the people’s (luxury) car” brand to thrive here in the US. Brands like people need to evolve and change with the times.
But there is something sad about the fact that a friendly and fun car, designed for those who let the other person merge first and wave too, could just never could scale to match mass market Detroit numbers here in America.
Looking forward it seems like VW’s story is more akin to “On the road of life there is passengers and drivers. Aggressive drivers wanted.”