Volkswagen. Apple. Federal Express. Unquestionably, three of the
most heralded campaigns in advertising history.
So, here we are in 1998, and what campaigns do I find myself
Volkswagen, Apple and FedEx.
First, Volkswagen. For 30 seconds, we see two guys driving around. They
say nothing, they look out the window, they see a big ratty chair
someone has thrown out, they put the chair in the back of the VW, they
drive around some more, they realise the chair smells, so they dump the
Throughout, we hear a song, Da Da Da, which I understand was a hit from
a European group that never made it in the US but it makes this
commercial wonderful. A voiceover says: ’Volkswagen. It fits your
life ... or lack thereof.’ It’s amazing how much this spot says by
In 1984, Apple did the most famous commercial ever during the
During the next 13 years, it did a lot of good advertising. With one
problem: Apple, the company, had lost its focus - and a lot of its
business. Back came its co-founder, Steve Jobs, back came Lee Clow, and
back came another brilliant Apple spot.
We saw black-and-white still photos - Picasso, Muhammad Ali, Einstein,
Martin Luther King. We heard Richard Dreyfuss: ’Here’s to the crazy
ones, the misfits, the round pegs in the square holes ... the people who
are crazy enough to think they can change the world - are the ones who
Then the Apple logo and the line: ’Think different.’ I don’t know if
it’s good enough to save Apple but it’s a big idea done beautifully.
I sat down to watch the SuperBowl last week, which this year pitted the
Green Bay Packers against the Denver Broncos ... and BBDO against the
rest of the advertising industry. Denver scored and a Pepsi spot from
BBDO came on. Nice spot. Next spot came on. We saw colour bars, we heard
a buzzing sound as if the TV station was doing a test, then we saw type
coming across the screen. It said that ’the commercial that was supposed
to be running now never arrived at the station. It seems that some dunce
at the ad agency sent it air express but didn’t use FedEx.’ With all of
the hype around the SuperBowl (dollars 1.3 million for a 30-second spot
plus millions in production), this is the anti-SuperBowl commercial: a
simple idea that probably cost about dollars 5,000 to produce. Broncos
and BBDO, 1998 SuperBowl champs.
Ron Berger is a partner and creative director of Messner Vetere Berger
McNamee Schemetterer/Euro RSCG.