Friday, 25 June 2010

It's back. But when did it go away?








Here’s a rant: About the advertising campaign for the Volkswagen Beetle whose tag line and advertising idea is: Curves are back.

The old Beetle was never launched in India. So how can curves be 'back'? But I am asking this question because I am thinking like a layman (Dictionary note: layman: a man who is hoping to get laid), and not like the advertising man (Dictionary note: a man who has no hope of getting laid).

But why does the layman think differently than the ad man? No, apart from the dictionary differentiation?
Because the ad man knows more than the layman. He knows that the original Beetle became a cult car in the USA because of the amazing advertising created by Bill Bernbach. Advertising that broke the rules as much as the car itself did.

In those days cars were big and solid. American car buyers were supposed to love rectangular car roofs. Cars were symbols of status (and places where you used the back seat for more than seating). Car advertising reflected that. No, not that, but reflected bigness, solidness, status and rectangular roof-ness. Until VW Beetle and Bernbach came along and re-wrote the history.

Ad guys all over the world including India know this. They are brought up on it. They all want to do path-breaking advertising like Bernbach. Trivial stuff like the original Beetle was never launched in India doesn’t matter because well, the guys creating the advertising know the history and so does the client, so what the heck!

In fact so strong is the influence of the original Beetle advertising that at least one advertising agency named itself after a headline from that campaign. That it turned out to be a lemon is another story. There is also an unverified story about how an ad agency was sacked when a copy writer directly lifted one of the headlines, ‘Think small’, and used it for a condom ad.

The copy writer now works in Japan.

There is also another insignificant fact: From the humble Hyundai i 10 and Tata Indica to the Suzuki Swift and Hyundai i 20, plus the illusion of the Honda CRV’s window lines and the top end Mercedes-Benz CLK, all have shapes that are unmistakably ‘curvy’. But it’s insignificant. Surely, there are no curves that can compare with the original Beetle’s.

Given the cult status and the lasting influence of the original Beetle and its advertising, my rant against, ‘Curves are back’ becomes totally unjustified, almost moronic in fact.

So all I can say is, “Eat on lean and hungry model in the Beetle TV ad, get those curves now that they are back in fashion!” 

Of course I haven't seen too many Beetles on the road or too many people standing around a parked Beetle in Mumbai the way I saw them in New York City when it was launched there in 1998, but that must be because I don't hang out on the right roads.

No! Wait! I know what this campaign is all about: 

It has been done to appeal to Indian men, the men who are crazy about curves and love-handles. What a fricking insight! Even Bernbach would have been proud of it! In fact I know what the next TV ad will be like:
The same model, now with curves. She takes tee-shirt after tee-shirt from her wardrobe and rips them around the mid-riff.
Cut to: Curvy model walking down the street wearing ripped tee-shirt.
The tag line appears: Love handles are back.



Picture courtesy: www.volkswagen.co.in



3 comments:

  1. I have been laughing right through while reading this post. Unmistakably Deven :) And for those who can read in between the lines, there's more to it than meets the eye ;)

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  2. Beetle may not have been launched here but come to think of it we've had Zeenat Aman. And now we have Kareena Zero Kapoor. So to borrow a phrase from the school maths teacher Tulpule, "Lo and behold, we have a case for a return of curves."

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