Iconic Ads: Volkswagen Golf – Changes

vw changes

Changes are regarded as an indication that vehicle advertising was starting to acknowledge women’s greater freedom

In 1987, Volkswagen decided to put more marketing effort into the Golf model, the second generation.

Paula Hamilton played a woman who made the decision to divorce her husband. As she walks out of her mews home with tears in her eyes, she takes off her wedding ring and places it through the letter slot in the door. As she storms out, she rips the pearl necklace from her neck, tosses the brooch she was wearing, and takes off the mink coat she was wearing. She walks up to a drain to throw the keys to her Volkswagen Golf down it, but as she does so, she has a change of heart and decides that she will instead retain the vehicle. The commercial comes to a close with her driving away in the Golf with a grin on her face. The tagline for the advertisement reads, “If only everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen.”

Graham Featherstone and Barry Greensted of Boase Massimi Pollitt were responsible for the creation of Changes. British photographer David Bailey, who was also the one who discovered Hamilton, directed it. For the sake of the film, Hamilton was made to look like Princess Diana. The song “Changes” by Alan Price was played throughout the commercial, and the song’s title also served as the name of the commercial itself. Price penned the song to the tune of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and dedicated it to his close buddy Zoot Money, who was going through the process of being divorced at the time.

Changes are regarded as an indication that vehicle advertising was starting to acknowledge women’s greater freedom. Prior car advertisements had, for the most part, either featured women as models or represented them as passengers. Changes is recalled as a sign that car advertising began to recognise women’s increased independence.


Hamilton was rocketed to prominence as a direct consequence of the success of Changes, yet she started to detest the fact that she was exclusively recognised for it. In 1997, she expressed her frustration by saying, “All I always seem to be known as is Paula Hamilton the alcoholic and Volkswagen girl.”

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