A vintage VW bus ad evokes blue skies, hippie vibes and a pre-emissions scandal heyday
Referred to internally as the Type 2, you may know this vehicle as the Volkswagen bus, Microbus or Kombi, if you’re nasty. Volkswagen itself insisted on calling it a “station wagon” for years in its advertising. This gorgeous model, beloved by the Woodstock generation, boasts in this 1965 DDB ad that it has “twice as much room as most wagons” and that it is “only 9 inches longer than our sedan.”
Of course, the real selling point here is the view. Or rather, views. All 21 of them. The possible views here lean into nature and, uh, Las Vegas (oh, the places you’ll go!), all laid out in a snappy grid of modernist quadrangles.
In 2015, scandal arrived at VW’s door when the automaker was caught installing “defeat devices” on vehicles in an apparent attempt to evade emissions testing. The crisis badly damaged the brand and ran directly counter to the company’s decades-long pro-environment messaging (not unlike the one in this ad).
Now, four years later, VW, which largely avoided addressing the scandal, has been tackling it head on in advertising for its forthcoming line of eight electric vehicles—including a snazzy new bus. A TV spot called “Hello Light,” by Johannes Leonardo, hearkens to VW’s hippie heyday. Set to Simon & Garfunkel’s anthem “The Sound of Silence,“ it spins that the crisis spurred the company’s electric slide. The accompanying text: “In the darkness, we found the light.”
The times, they still seem to be a-changin’.