Summary of Getting the Bugs Out

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Getting the Bugs Out book summary
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Rating

8

Qualities

  • Innovative

Recommendation

David Kiley’s insightful tome is as charmingly idiosyncratic as his subject, the VW Beetle or "Bug." Beginning with the Bug’s nasty political genesis as Hitler’s "people’s car," Kiley follows the methods marketers used to shape its 1960s and 1990s commercial identities. Kiley covers the Bug’s marketing history, from the obtuse (managers didn’t understand that it was essential to VW’s U.S. identity) to the brilliant (its sales renaissance). getAbstract recommends this book for its fascinating history, but also for its examples of marketing strategy and internal corporate knife-fighting that just might teach you a trick or two.

About the Author

David Kiley  is the Detroit bureau chief for USA Today. A journalist with 15 years experience, 10 of it covering the auto industry, Kiley has written extensively for various marketing and advertising trade magazines. He has also appeared on national television programs as an advertising and automotive industry analyst.

 

Summary

Made in America

Considering that Adolph Hitler commissioned the original Volkswagen Beetle, German reluctance to go retro with the New Beetle is understandable. However, economics ruled. Prior to the introduction of the new "People’s Wagon," the company’s fortunes were on a downward slope as distinctive as Bug’s egg-shaped profile. During the Bug’s 1970s heyday, Volkswagen sold 500,000 a year in the U.S. But, by 1993, that dropped to only 50,000. Indeed, rumors had begun to surface that anemic sales might force Volkswagen to withdraw from the U.S. market altogether. Yet the firm’s German management remained loath to reintroduce the Bug in the U.S.

While the no-nonsense German engineers considered the Bug an automobile whose time had passed, they underestimated the romance and innocence that Americans still associated with it. Ironically, two American baby boomers led the push to bring back the Beetle. In 1991, auto designer J. Mays became head of VW’s new North American design studio in Simi Valley, California. Though tired of retro design, he believed that some lines and proportions were timeless. Former Porsche designer Freeman Thomas grew up with Beetles and remained...


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