How do you say "Fahrvergnügen?”


"Fahrvergnügen" VW ad campaign

Vw fahrvergnugen

When producing radio programming weeks or even months ahead of its scheduled air date, often the media buys (aka the national commercials in the show) were not yet produced by the sponsor or its ad agency. This would usually send the broadcast network's traffic department into a tizzy. But no problem. We'd have the agency simply send me the script (or talking points if a script was not yet executed) and any production elements such as background music, jingles, etc., and I would voice and produce an interim commercial spot that aired exclusively in our program for a week-- two or three, tops. Who’d be listening, right?

Well, the most perplexing one of these stop-gap efforts was a commercial in ’89 or ’90 for Volkswagen. The copy included the phrases, "Fahrvergnügen: It's what makes a car a Volkswagen," or "Fahrvergnügen: It means driving excitement, " and other similar variations. The problem was, how the hell did you pronounce "Fahrvergnügen?”

I did the best I could, and my :30 second spot actually aired in our show and other syndicated fare for over a month. And thanks to the help of the German Embassy, my pronunciation was either spot on, or I influenced the higher-paid voice talent that followed in my footsteps. But I hold the dubious distinction of having introduced "Fahrvergnügen” to America.

My original radio spot is lost somewhere among multi-track reels of radio programs, but here’s a vintage TV spot with some similar language from that questionable ad campaign.

(Please note that I did not write this ad copy or produce or direct this TV spot, this commercial is featured simply as an adjunct illustration to the above story.)