Bill Bernbach's 1969 Cannes Lions Trophy Award for DDB Volkswagen "Funeral" TVC Original One-of-a-kind
30th October 2016
You are looking at a great piece of America's television culture history: an engraved, hand-crafted XVI Cannes Lions trophy from 1969 that awarded to the real Mad Man Bill Bernbach and his advertising agency DDB for the game-changing Volkswagen "Funeral" commercial.
This one of a kind statue bears the origins of the festival, which got its start under the gaze of the statues of winged lions in St Mark's Square, Venice.It was there in September 1954 that the first festival took place. It was an initiative by the London-based Screen Advertising World Association as a means to promote advertising in cinemas, then the only audiovisual medium available to advertisers outside the US. For some years, the festival flitted between Venice and Cannes. And when the gold, silver and bronze Lions were created in 1969, the event organizers commissioned the Argentieri Miracuolli jewellery store in Milan to reproduce the winged lion of Venice in trophy form.
However, the trophies became the subject of a row when the festival's organizers decided to make Cannes its permanent home in 1984. The decision was the climax of several years, during which the festival became the target of industrial action. The last straw came when delegates were forced to clean their own rooms while the awards ceremony had to be held outdoors. Angry at the organizer's decision to ditch Venice, Italian officials banned the festival from using winged lion replicas as trophies. The result was that they had to be redesigned. Today, the lion - minus his wings - remains the symbol of the world's largest advertising event.
This trophy was awarded for the best TV spot ever created. Produced by Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) New York in 1969, at the height of the remarkable agency's creative power, it typifies the magnificent "Think Small" campaign the agency created for Volkswagen that did much more than boost sales and build a lifetime of brand loyalty. The ad, and the work of the ad agency behind it, changed the very nature of advertising--from the way it's created to what you see as a consumer today.
Unless you're old enough to remember, you probably don't know much about the advertising campaign for the first Volkswagen Beetle. Roy Grace drew his inspiration from seeing an actual lineup of cars. Iconoclastic idea. Executed flawlessly. Fabulous casting, a terrific voice over from a dead man and spectacular camera work, especially the brilliant helicopter shot that concludes the spot--with the Volkswagen Beetle very appropriately trailing the procession.
View it here on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmPztHIZEMU
"A fleet of limos on the way to a funeral. While glimpses of the people in the cars are shown, we hear the deceased's voice on the soundtrack reading out his will. To his wife, who spent money "like there was no tomorrow," he leaves 100 $ and a calendar. To his sons, who spent every dime he ever gave them on "fancy cars and fast women," he leaves 50 $ . in dimes. To his business partner, whose motto was "spend, spend, spend" he leaves "nothing, nothing, nothing." His entire fortune, we then learn, goes to his nephew, who - bringing u the rear of the procession in his VW Beetle - "often said, 'A penny saved is a penny earned" and Gee, uncle Max, it sure pays to own a Volkswagen."
So a brief overview is in order. Volkswagen hired the Doyle Dane Bernbach ad agency to create a campaign that would introduce the Beetle to the U.S. market in 1960. Now consider the marketing situation. Competing auto makers were building ever bigger cars for growing families with Baby Boomer children. The Beetle, on the other hand, was tiny and, well, ugly. Who would buy it? On top of this, the Beetle was manufactured in Wolfsburg, Germany, at a plant built by the Nazis. Given that World War II had ended only 15 years earlier, it's easy to envision a public relations nightmare.It was in this environment that DDB introduced the Beetle with a radical ad campaign that perfectly positioned the product and won the hearts and minds of the masses.What made the VW Beetle ad campaign so radical? Ads before it were either information-based and lacking in persuasion, more fantasy than reality, or relied on the medium's ability to deliver repeated exposure. Praise these people, some in memoriam:
- Creative Director: Bill Bernbach
- Art director: Roy Grace
- Designer: Roy Grace
- Copywriter: John Noble
- Director: Howard Zieff
- Agency producers: Susan Calhoun, Don Trevor
- Production studio: Howard Zieff Productions
- Cinematographer: Lawrence Williams Jr.
About Bill Bernbach:
The pioneer of Creative Revolution, Bill Bernbach, along with Ned Doyle and Maxwell Dane, founded DDB on June 1, 1949. Often cited as one of the most important names in modern advertising (and even often mentioned in such pop culture outlets as “Mad Men”), Bernbach paired up art directors and copywriters and largely founded the creative department model that’s standard today. He ignited the creative revolution and changed the world of communications and business forever. He was a philosopher, a scientist, a humanitarian. And his influence was felt well beyond the world of advertising. Bernbach's ideas and keen insights into human nature may be more relevant than ever. His timeless words have inspired thousands of creative men and women around the world. They have the power to inspire many more.
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