At the German company where I work, the relationship between German colleagues and North American and British colleagues can be strained. It comes down to the German cultural capital of speaking directly, clearly and very unambiguously.
I have been party to social situations where one colleague (non-German) asked her office mate (very German, right down to the black socks and Birkenstocks) what he thought of her new shirt. He replied, “it’s ugly, the color doesn’t suit you.” It’s the whole truth, the blunt truth, and nothing but the truth.
I find that this approach works well in German car advertising too. Get the message across, simple, plain clear. The Mercedes motto is “The best or nothing.” The brilliant Porsche message is as direct and brusque as a German waitress at a café: “Porsche. There is no substitute.” Audi is a bit more abstract: “Leading with technology” (loosely translated).
With that in mind, I present to you two of the best print ads (sorry, no video, folks) I have seen in quite some time. One is from BMW on the danger of using imitation replacement parts, and the other is from VW on the highly-regarded DSG transmission that unites the benefits of a manual and an automatic.
Both ads are gems of simplicity, directness and are way better than any ad you will see from Mazda, Toyota or Hyundai. The Asian print ads I came across while comparing these tended to be wordy, too much text, too many ideas. Like they are trying too hard to sell you something. Trying to be too clever and keen.
Any ad, be it print, radio, TV, web, or even skywriting needs to make a point in a short amount of time. These two ads use Germanic clarity and directness not just in the message but also in the clean visual image being presented. Modern, sophisticated, no rough edges. Just like most recent VW and BMW cars. The brand extends consistently from the product to the message.