28. VW Ad Parody

Q: The best ad parody I ever saw in National Lampoon showed a floating Volkswagon Bug in the water with the caption “If Teddy Kennedy drove a Volkswagon, He’d be President Today.” Where did that appear?

A: That was in the National Lampoon Encyclopedia of Humor (1973). It’s listed in the contents page (under D) as “Doyle Dane Bernbach” and was written by Anne Beatts. If you buy a copy of this issue, you may find the ad is missing. As a result of a lawsuit by VW over the ad for unauthorized use of their trademark, NatLamp was forced to remove the page (with razor blades!) from any copies they still had in inventory (which, from what I gather, was about half the first printing of 250,000 copies) and all subsequent reprints. For what it’s worth, Ted Kennedy didn’t sue.

7 comments on “28. VW Ad Parody

  1. -

    and the worst thing about the whole fiasco was the fine mk brown cartoon on the reverse side of the page that is lost to humanity for ever.

  2. -

    Actually, it was two B. Kliban cartoons under the category of “Dames” both titled “Other Properties of Women” and a continuation of the item “Disappointments, Great”. You were close, though. M.K. Brown was married to B. Kliban.

  3. -

    Actually, it was was the idea of Phil Socci [Anne just polished the finished text – both are credited at the bottom left on that page, Phil first] who, because of it, at the ripe age of 19 was instantly blackballed from the industries he wished to be a part of. Phil died a few years ago of cancer, only 49.

  4. -

    I have this issue with the ad still intact and in very good condition.
    Does anyone know the worth of that issue?

  5. -

    It’s worth about $30 if it’s in “very fine” condition.

  6. -

    It’s my understanding that as part of the out of court settlement, the Lampoon agreed to retract the ad in print in a future issue. One story I’ve heard states the retraction read: “Even if Ted Kennedy had driven a Volkswagen he wouldn’t be president today.”
    Anyone know if there’s any truth to this? If so, what issue did the “retraction” appear in?

  7. -

    I don’t recall ever seeing that.

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