Volkswagen Honors BS As Ancient Dinosaur. Part Of Golf History Relived

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
volkswagen honors bs as ancient dinosaur part of golf history relived

Gerd, Bertel, Gerd, 1974 – Volkswagen artwork on the wall

You know you are getting old – when Volkswagen praises you as a part of its heritage. This year, it will become 40 years that I said “sure” after someone asked me whether I would want to be a copywriter in an advertising agency. One of my first jobs was the launch campaign for the Volkswagen Golf, which hit the showrooms in Germany and Europe in early 1974, and soon became a hit. Volkswagen and I stuck together until 2007. I experienced a part of auto history, but I never thought I would be turned into a museum piece.

To celebrate the launch of the Golf, Volkswagen’s Heritage Dept. tracked me down in my love nest in Tokyo. Their mission: To relive how the ads and catalogs for the Golf were made. The interview can be found here at Volkswagen’s Classic website – it’s in German, and I am too embarrassed to translate the thing.

The story, which finally turns me into a dinosaur, comes with two rare artifacts of car history:

  • The full version of the launch catalog for the Volkswagen Golf
  • A series of never before published outrageous Polaroids from back when, out of the collection of my dear friend and then Art Director Gerd Hiepler.

Divine inspiration, please: Bertel and Gerd

The prayer picture is especially historically important: There, we pray for heavenly intuition, or at least divine inspiration for an advertising campaign, not for the Golf, but for tires by Continental. At the time, Dr. Carl Hahn was CEO of Continental. A little later, he took over at Volkswagen. Next to Ferdinand Piech, Carl Hahn was the most important CEO of Volkswagen.

Impressions of the wild times many years ago can be found at the (now officially sanctioned) Autobiography of BS. Prices for the book and the movie now skyrocketed – I hope.

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  • WildcatMatt WildcatMatt on Feb 11, 2013

    Out of curiosity, Bertel, where does Heinrich Nordhoff rank on your list?

  • Mr. Edward Mann Mr. Edward Mann on Apr 02, 2013

    Part 1 of the interview (translated): The phone rings with double tone, also the Japanese voice at the other end sounds unusual. Then Bertel Schmitt is personally in it: He stamped year in 1949, adoptive country Tokyo, till 2007 the writing style of Volkswagen with. Bertel Schmitt was a script writer, then creative Director and, finally, managers of the advertising agency GGK Dusseldorf. Late Executive Vice President with Lois, Pitts, Gershon, Pon/GGK, New York as well as managing partner of count, Bertel, Buczek, New York and Dusseldorf. He looked from 1973 to 2007 after Volkswagen: As a Copywriter stamped he and his employees for decades typical Volkswagen tone in catalogues and prospectuses. How he found again his prospectuses recently in the museum and why to a good script writer cars should be best of all completely schnuppe, he betrays during the interview. Mr. Schmitt, you have written about 35 years Volkswagen Copytexte*. How does such a thing happen? Bertel Schmitt: From chance. A friendly Dusseldorf creative Director asked me, the journalist whether I could step in with a job. If I have acted. And then I should sign with GGK immediately a festival contract. The money was right, so I was with in the boat. Are you an autofan, was the Volkswagen job thrilling for you? Schmitt: I, autofan? Not at all, zero. With me the car is always the best what lies on my desk for writing the words. Four cylinders – fantastically, five cylinders – better than four cylinders, diesel engine – wonderfully, water cooling – quite excellently! How sobering... Schmitt: Yes and no. I see this in such a way: If you want to promote cars really well, you may take nobody who has of it too much notion. Or even enthusiast is. Distance protect, neutral remain – this is the recipe for success in my eyes. Thus I was seen perfectly for the job because I had zero notion of cars. Script writer Bertel Schmitt: His texts stamped Volkswagen announcements and prospectuses Wolfsburg world premiere: The very first golf, the very first catalogue How were the test runs then in Wolfsburg with the brand-new, confidential golf? Schmitt: Wonderfully. I had nothing to do. During the first seven years I not even had a driving licence. And afterwards only one American one. Mr. Plamböck of the central sales promotion at that time went, and I asked for his driving impressions. Which project for Volkswagen do you remember particularly? Schmitt: My first poster for Volkswagen was a beetle embroidered on jeans. This was the main salary of the golf: He permitted that the beetle might become more human more brightly. One could say it maybe so: the tolerated dishonouring of the deadly serious beetle. How has your agency approached to the job to conceive the first golf prospectus? Schmitt: Art Director and script writer consisted, Scribbles originated, the important structure and sequence of the sides were fixed, then everybody made his job. In our case it was a matter above all of transporting the important facts of the hope bearer's golf clearly. So, how do you describe this, does it not sound after particularly a lot of stress? Schmitt: When I started, one said: „In the advertisement it is stressful!" I did not feel it, however, in such a way. The writing gave a lot of pleasure to me, only the next vote with the engineers was tough from the point of view of the script writer a little bit, but was inevitable of course. There were always supplement wishes: This is absent, this was wrong, this still has to go with in... And the golf, how you have met him? How was the mood in Wolfsburg? Schmitt: As said – as a canvasser the car had to make no difference to me extensively. It was vital: I had to make a good job! And in Wolfsburg many have trembled whether the golf became a success. „No blessing rests on this car!", even believed some how I heard. Then, besides, it has worked right away! The sparing golf appeared "suitably" to the so-called oil crisis. We thought at that time everybody, soon we drive only bicycle...

    • Mr. Edward Mann Mr. Edward Mann on Apr 02, 2013

      Part 2 (translated): Thought, written, printed: During 35 years Bertel Schmitt texts wrote for Volkswagen prospectuses. "The new popular sport: Golf." Was it then easy from your view to put through good ideas in the advertisement? Schmitt: I give sometimes an example: We created a golf poster – a piece of art lawns with a pendant on it and the new golf. The slogan: "The new popular sport: Golf." Today this would be more difficult in my opinion. Why? Schmitt: Today the focus on the target group is more important. And at least at that time golf as a popular sport – this was not right! So: There is nothing good, except one does it? Schmitt: Yes and no. At that time the responsible people in Volkswagen were with us under a common creative cover. They have recognised this immediately if was a little bit good. However, they have also noticed and said if it has not been carrying away sometimes. I will never forget the presentation of which defective quality I was persuaded, actually, already while getting into the train in Dusseldorf. "This is all dung what I have here!", I think with myself. Then, by the presentation, I work with my black cardboards, talked and talked, there interrupted Dieter Buczek, at that time advertising manager of Volkswagen: "Nevertheless, Bertel, this is not your seriousness." I was made easier: "Is this called, now I may stop?" We had to laugh both, the next draught was much better really again. Have you written the words to the golf, actually, also sometimes as beetle heirs? Schmitt: No, never! This was completely prohibited – the beetle was still produced. Really nobody dared to take the concept "Successor" in the mouth. However, the need to the change was aware to all? Schmitt: Yes. Absolutely. Only one did not know in 1973/1974 just yet whether the golf really brings the big change, this still turned out only afterwards. By the way: They have grown up in Tokyo and China at home, born in Bad Kissingen, in Munich, occasionally you lived in New York – do you still own some of your old Volkswagen prospectuses? Schmitt: None, I have nothing more! My camp in China burnt itself down, my cellar on Long Iceland had run after a storm completely water – I could throw away everything. When have you seen at last one of "your" Volkswagen prospectuses? Schmitt: Years ago in the Natural History museum in Washington! As an example for – mass production...! (laughs) What was then looking back your biggest "legacy" for the writing style of the Volkswagen advertisement? Schmitt: The abolition of the hyphens. With the complexity of the technology more and more hyphens walked along. When they got out of control, I abolished them. From "Heckscheiben-Wisch-Wasch-Anlage" piece of bumf and Washing arrangement" became „rear windows and so forth. The Volkswagen advertisement was free of hyphen. It hailed protest writing of secondary school teachers. Our standard letter in reply started: "Concerns: Their hyphen letter." Then the upper teachers got angry and created the "idiot's blank" as a counterpropaganda. But we strictly remained with the hyphen Losigkeit – in any case, till 2007. * Copytext or Copy calls the assembly-line text of an announcement, a sales prospectus etc. in the advertising branch. previous page 12 Page 1: "As a canvasser the car must make no difference to you." Page 2: "The new popular sport: Golf."

  • The Oracle I say let the clunkers stay on the roads.
  • Jpolicke Twenty-three grand for a basket case? And it has '66 wheel covers and gas cap so who knows what else isn't original?
  • Scott Can't be a real 1965 Stang as all of those are nothing but a pile of rust that MIGHT be car shaped by now.
  • 56m65711446 So, the engineers/designers that brought us the Pinto are still working at Ford!
  • Spookiness I dig it. The colors are already available on the CX-50. The terracotta is like a nice saddle brown. The non-turbo Carbon Edition has a bluish gray and a burgundy leather interior. A nice break from the typical relentless black and 50 shade of gray palette. Early CX-30's had some dark navy blue (armest, console, and parts of the door) but I guess that was just too weird and radical so they switched to all-black.I'd be fine with cloth in colors, leather is over-rated, but I'll never have an all-black interior in a car ever again.