What was the No. 1 advertising campaign of the 20th century? Hint: Think small.
Small, as in Volkswagen's 1959 'Think small' campaign that featured stark product shots of the Beetle combined with self-deprecating humor.
The 'Think small' campaign topped Advertising Age's list of the top 100 ad campaigns of the 20th century. In The Advertising Century, a special issue published last week, the editors looked at the ways advertising has entertained, moved and motivated consumers. Advertising Age is a sister publication to Automotive News.
Several other automotive ad campaigns were honored along with Volkswagen's.
The defunct Jordan Motor Car Co.'s 1923 campaign, 'Somewhere west of Laramie,' ranked No. 30.
Saturn Corp.'s campaign entitled 'A different kind of company. A different kind of car' ranked No. 37.
Chevrolet's 1950s campaign, 'See the USA in your Chevrolet,' ranked No. 41. The song, sung by Dinah Shore, ranked fifth among the top 10 advertising jingles compiled in The Advertising Century.
Cadillac's 1915 ad, 'The penalty of leadership,' ranked No. 49.
Isuzu's 'Lying Joe Isuzu,' ranked No. 83; BMW's 'The ultimate driving machine,' was No. 84; and Volvo's 'Average life of a car in Sweden,' at No. 90, rounded out automobile advertising's contributions to the list.
Three automotive executives won places on the list of the top 100 advertising people of the 20th century. Alfred P. Sloan Jr., the architect of General Motors' strategy of aiming different marques at different consumers, ranked 20th. John Smale, who led GM's 1992 boardroom coup, ranked No. 35 on the list, largely for his efforts at Procter & Gamble Co., the personal hygiene products giant.
Lee Iacocca, who starred in 61 commercials for Chrysler Corp., ranked No. 54.
Since 1955, two companies, GM and Procter & Gamble, have won the top ad spending crown in all but three years. GM spent $3.09 billion to win the top spot in 1997.