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