Volkswagen was a company well known for unorthodox advertising practices by the mid 1960s. It should come as no surprise that when it came time to expand their model range for 1966 with the Fastback and Squareback, the commercials were rather typically anything but typical.
Although both the Volkswagen Beetle and the Volkswagen transporter were very popular in America by the mid 1960s, few would argue either of the quirky vehicles would win any beauty contests. Volkswagen built their brand in America using Doyle Dane Bernbach's honest advertising technique to play on the Volkswagen's strength. This advertisement, showcasing the new for 1966 Volkswagen Fastback is somewhat expectedly more of the same. If any company has ever embodied the "If it ain't broke don't fix it" philosophy, it was Volkswagen in the 1960s and 1970s.
The Fastback was brought to America along with the Squareback station wagon for the 1966 model years. The two shared the Volkswagen "Type 3" platform which was originally introduced in 1961 for the Notchback and Type 34 Karmann Ghia. Both models were much more stylish than Volkswagen's prior offerings, but were unfortunately never marketed in North America. The Fastback and Squareback were introduced to European markets later (1965 and 1962 respectively) and shared similar design elements as well as the Type 3 platform.
Volkswagen hoped the Fastback was so stylish that many, including the paper sandwich eating inmate profiled in this commercial, might have a hard time associating it with the company's prior offerings. Sure it is a stretch, but 45 years later the advertising efforts remain amusing. Whether or not one of these "good looking Volkswagens" actually caused panic in the 1960s is questionable, but we imagine these days the rarely seen models are more likely to inspire curiosity than anything else.