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Think Small: The Story of the World's Greatest Ad Paperback – 1 Oct 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Full Stop Press (1 Oct. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3033028527
  • ISBN-13: 978-3033028524
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 9 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 972,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dominik Imseng received a M.A. in Philosophy, German Literature and History of Art from the University of Zurich. He works as a copywriter and journalist in Switzerland and regularly interviews great advertising creatives. Dominik has never owned a Volkswagen Beetle. In fact, he doesn't even know how to drive.

Product Description


"No matter how well you think you know this ad and the campaign it launched, I'm telling you, you only know half the story." --Richard Huntington,

"Essential reading!"
--Michael Weinzettl, Lürzer's Archive

From the Publisher

"A fascinating story of how the Creative Revolution really started." Al Ries, co-author of "Positioning. The Battle for Your Mind"

"An up-close deconstruction of the cultural forces, events and creative talents that came together to produce advertising's version of the Mona Lisa." Warren Berger, author of "Advertising Today," "Hoopla" and "Glimmer"

"As a certified DDB fanatic, I can't believe how much I learned in Imseng's book." Terry O'Reilly, host/co-author of "The Age of Persuasion"

"Imseng's book turns fresh ground in advertising history, and on a truly historic campaign." Luke Sullivan, author of "Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Advertising"

"If you're in advertising you want to do good ads. And to do that, you'll need to know where and how it all started." Dave Trott, author of "Creative Mischief"

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dave Birss on 28 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As an advertising creative, I'm well familiar with the story of the creative revolution. To be honest, I didn't think there was much more I could learn about it.

I was wrong.

Dominik has interviewed many of the surviving participants and brought new life to the tale. It's full of contradicting points of view, disagreements and grudges. And that makes it all the more interesting.

Plus the book is a gorgeous little gem that looks like it was designed by Helmut Krone himself.

If you're in the ad industry, this is required reading. Go get it!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The VW adverts were revolutionary, changing graphic art almost overnight. I was at art college in the late 50s, early 60s and we used to phone one another when a new one came out, and discuss them.

This is the background to the creation of the series of adverts, including the often ignored copy.aspect. There are some lovely quotes. There can be no argument at the price that this is worth reading for anyone interested in the history of graphic art in advertising.

I remember that we were told 'if you show it, don't tell. If you tell it, don't show.' Along came these adverts and all of a sudden it seemed that 'Do your own thing' was the mantra. Great times to live through and this book allowed me to remember the trhill of the time.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. P. Fraser on 14 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
It's a lovely little book and surprisingly small, but it did feel a bit lacking. If you've done any reading about DDB and VW you'll probably know most of the content and I wasn't overly impressed by the tacked on interview with the "new" Bill Bernbach, Alex Bogusky, which didn't seem relevant.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"Think Small" Thinks Big! 22 May 2012
By George Parker - Published on
Format: Paperback
I get lots of books to review. To be honest, most of them I don't, because I am a really, really busy guy, and am in great demand... He said modestly. So, a quick scan determines if the book is of any interest to me and the readers of AdScam, or, they are complete rubbish, and an insult to my superior intelligence.
However, right now, I've just finished a cracker... "Think Small."
Yeah, you guessed it; this is about VW advertising... But it's actually a lot more than that. Firstly, it's a small book... Really small, (see the picture of the hand holding it) and it's not a book about VW advertising in general. It's a book about one VW ad in particular.
Written by Swiss Creative, Dominik Imseng, it packs a lot of information into its 160 pages, including the little known fact that there were actually three versions of the iconic ad. But before the advertising there's a lot of good stuff about the car itself, including the fact that it was first used by the Nazi SS, then later in World War II by the "Desert Rat" Rommel before "Monty" kicked him out of North Africa. No wonder VW's are so popular here in Idaho, the Fourth Reich.
There's also a lot of good stuff about the early days of DDB before they picked up the VW account - Which both David Ogilvy and Howard Gossage turned down - As usual, George Lois claims he came up with everything, including "Poisoned Gas," but as Dominik points out, George only worked on the VW Bus, not the car!
As expected, the agency/client relationship between DDB and VW was one that virtually doesn't exist these days: i.e. one of complete trust. And even though I already knew it, it was refreshing to read again that amongst Bill Bernbach's many dicta was his policy of never dumping an account in order to take on a bigger rival. Something else you won't see much of in most ad agencies these days.
There's a ton of information on Bill, Ned, George, Julien, Bob, Phyllis, Helmut and the others who made DDB what it was. You know, all those people today's young people in advertising have no idea about. But you will if you buy this book.
Just one black mark though. Rip out the last chapter and throw it away. It's called "The New Bernbach," and is an interview with Alex Bogusky. To paraphrase Lloyd Bentson... "I knew Bill Bernbach, and you sir, are no Bill Bernbach." Bill Bernbach would never have written a diet book whilst peddling burgers and pizza to kids.
Otherwise, "Think Small" is a great book about great advertising.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Inside View 28 Oct. 2011
By Niland Mortimer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Think Small is an inside view of the iconic VW campaign created by DoyleDaneBernbach--setting the stage for one of the most significant creative revolutions in advertising. The campaign also launched DDB into the forefront of creative agencies. It's no exaggeration to say that one ad, in fact, did launch this revolution of minimal, counter-intuitive copy and simple, direct imagery, turning a perceived negative into a positive one. The format of this book is consistent with the story it describes. Recommended for anyone interested in the history of advertising.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
comprehensive and compelling 29 May 2012
By Them - Published on
Format: Paperback
It's a curious thing about advertising. We are in a communications business and yet when it comes to talking intelligently about what we do, we quickly devolve to either inarticulate sputtering about those ads we hate, or moony-eyed gasps and sighs about those we love.

Now Dominik Imseng, a Swiss copywriter and journalist (with a degree in philosophy) has written "Think Small: The Story of the World's Greatest Ad", a small (it measures 6¾" by 3½") yet thoroughly enjoyable exploration of the people, circumstances and challenges involved in the development of DDB's famous 1959 ad for Volkswagen.

Now first of all, is it truly the world's greatest ad? "Ad Age" famously declared it so in 1999 in their "Advertising Century" issue, and they should probably know. And it's certainly a staple of advertising classes and lectures the world over (I know, because I've given some of those lectures).

But whether its literally "the best" (whatever that really means) or merely the "most influential" (and with whom, and whether that's ultimately what determines "best" in advertising), it's certainly one of the most sputtered over and sighed about in the history of our business, and for that reason alone deserves the kind of dedicated treatment evident here.

Mr. Imseng begins by [to read the rest of this review, please visit: [...]]
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