All brands, even monster brands, start small. Volkswagen was no exception. Six years after its introduction, Volkswagen sold less than 30,000 cars in the US.source -- The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR
Overnight success?Not until thirteen years later, in 1968, did Volkswagen top out as a brand. That year, Volkswagen sold 564,000 cars in the US, or 56% of the imported car market.
In other words, it took nineteen years for Volkswagen to peak as a brand. The first ten years were primarily publicity years, the following nine years were primarily advertising years.
Publicity first, advertising second is almost always the best branding strategy.
PublicityThe combination of a slow buildup and an initial need for publicity rather than advertising has made some big agencies shy away from handling new brands.
Advertising might be the way great brands get to be great brands, but try walking into a big 4A agency with a new product and a small budget. Then say to the new business director, "Help me build a great brand."
Advertising budgetThe big agencies we used to work for actively discouraged their account people from soliciting new brands. What they wanted were existing brands, preferably with existing king-size advertising budgets.
It's a fact that most monster brands got started with small agencies and then switched to big agencies when the brand got successful enough.