I may be getting ahead of myself (you said you would do TV ads later), but the best automobile ad I ever saw was the Cadillac ad where the lady said "When you turn your car on, does it return the favor?". Right on!
I have a Smokey and the Bandit 79 Trans Am Convertible , built by GM ,numbers matching , National Coach Engineering and authenticated by Pontiac Historical . When these cars were built there were a few great ads and articles in Motor Trend and Car Craft etc. They can be seen on at firebird gallery.com . How these cars were built was a feat of engineering. How about a little love and attention thrown our way. Four years ago I spoke to Mecums about putting my in their auction and I asked what price should I put on the car. The answer was they couldn't give advice because they had never seen or sold one.
The VW ad's from the 60's were always the best, "how long and we keep handing you this same old line", with the outline of the car. "Few things work as well as a Volkswagon", with a pencil tip braking on a piece of paper ... subtle but very effective ... I had 13 VW's!
Most advertising and marketing gurus taught the Jordan Playboy was the most significant automotive ad so I guess Jeff is correct in listing it at about the top. Great idea and good education for many in the hobby. Guess next we will have the 'most memorable' and the 'worst'. I think I heard the most criticism regarding "Its not your father's Oldsmobile" but in that case the amount of recall has to put in on one of "the most something" lists.
The early 1970's "your mother wouldn't like it" MGB ads and basically every Mini Cooper ad from the early 2000's should definitely be on this list. Those are my all-time favorite automotive print campaigns
Can't argue with the print ads, but the initial Miata television ads, the ones that showed the Miata in a showroom window and played "Sleepwalk" by Johnny Santos, captured my heart and led me on a quest to own one - I did in 1995 and it forever changed my life! Thank you, Mazda!
Tony T was correct. You once never saw an ugly chick in a Corvette. Can't say that now but I have observed that the once, hot chicks stayed with the young studs, who became old guys. Now, you see old babes in the Corvettes. Not the new Corvettes, the old classic ones. Old classics, old dudes and old broads. Sinatra could have crooned something like that and got away with it.
"18 Great Car Print Ads Aimed At the US Market," and two of them are for Pontiac GTOs. Do you discern a small, relatively recent scope of "history?" We'd expect Ned Jordan's terrific Somewhere West of Laramie and Bill Bernbach's wonderful VW "Think small." But most of these are more about what the compiler knows or grew up with, hardly culled from the great range of domestic auto ads. Not one by Peter Helck or from Packard, the most recognized motoring name in the world after only Ford in the first half of the 20th Century, and the most widely held automotive stock into the '40s after only GM. Try this. Cut and paste into your browser: https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/762586149378533442/
The Jordan Playboy ad copy may we’ll be the greatest piece of automotive prose ever written, but you need the full text to really appreciate it. Still gives me goosebumps every time I read it:
“SOMEWHERE west of Laramie there's a bronco-busting, steer roping girl who knows what I’m talking about. She can tell what a sassy pony, that’s a cross between greased lighting and the place where it hits, can do with eleven hundred pounds of steel and action when he's going high, wide and handsome. The truth is - the Playboy was built for her. Built for the lass whose face is brown with the sun when the day is done of revel and romp and race. She loves the cross of the wild and the tame. There's a savor of links about that car - of laughter and lilt and light - a hint of old loves - and saddle and quirt. It’s a brawny thing - yet a graceful thing for the sweep o' the Avenue. Step into the Playboy when the hour grows dull with things gone dead and stale. Then start for the land of real living with the spirit of the lass who rides, lean and rangy, into the red horizon of a Wyoming twilight.
No Joe Isuzu? Most ads were TV commercials, but some of the print versions were just as good.
Plymouth had a couple of ads for the Superbird with one of them featuring the Petty crew. The better one stated "A new kind of Runner." It showed a smiling driver behind the wheel of the winged wonder while parked in a backwoods moonshine operation.
Well, nice try, but certainly no cigar. Five of these ads are for foreign cars and after the last disaster I'd have thought me might actually be able to feature ads from our domestic manufacturers. Not only didn't that happen, but I wouldn't expect Edsel, gremlin and Pacer ads to fill in the rest. Seriously? Nothing from Chrysler(some truly spectacular 60s and 70s ads touting the Hemi and the Musclecar, nothing from Chevrolet(except a malaise era Corvette)-how about the "real McCoy" Corvette ad describing their success at Sebring in the 50s? or the 69 427 Corvette and Camaro SS shown together with the tagline, "We'll take on any other two cars in the magazine" ? The Craig Breedlove Bonneville piece showing the record breaking AMX, Ford's Total performance spots-you know, when they were spanking every single one of your beloved Europeans in every form of motorsport? Maybe some of Carroll Shelby's stuff-perhaps you've heard of him? Some great ads from the first Cobra and GT350s to the cheeky GLHS shown on a racetrack outrunning the contemporary Ferrari, Porsche and BMW? You can do better.
Folks! Here’s one of my favorites! The dawn of the Cobra in 1962! A little hot rod made by hot rodders in the heart of California car culture! Only Shelby would be dirting a now coveted 260 Cobra presumably somewhere in the Santa Monica Mountains! It truly was a “Warning”! LOL!!!
This comment will probably be deleted, but here goes anyway. The above VW ads remind me of a spoof ad that appeared in National Lampoon in 1973. The realistic-looking ad showed a picture of a VW bug floating in a pond and read "If Ted Kennedy drove a Volkswagen, he'd be president today."
I would include the VW ad when they increased the horsepower. Had this big bellied Southern sheriff with his foot on the rear bumper writing a speeding ticket, with the ad saying "this is now possible". Same for the Chrysler ad where the sheriff is busting the guy for operating a race car in the city. In the late '50s and early '60s, Pontiac had some really good art work.
Triumph ran a number of clever ads in the late 70's for their TR7 / TR8 wedge designs including one with a TR7 set vertical on a Saturn rocket launch pad (TR7..6..5..4..3..2..1....), and several featuring triangular garages. While they were not universally loved, the 7 was the best selling TR of all time. I've certainly enjoyed mine for the past 40+ years.
Saw the headline and knew there had to be a VW Beetle ad. They were groundbreaking. But astonished you did not include a BMW 2002 ad. The car was groundbreaking and the ads provoked a thoughtful challenge to the buyers of poor handling inefficient cars the US produced.
My Father dated my Mother in a Jordan Playboy. 1000 years later I had among other things a 1967 Beetle, which I bought as a repossession from a Leasing Company in California which became a possession of my ex-wife. I used the VW to run around town and do errands in; it was perfect in many ways especially in parking scenarios. Thank you for this and stay well.
Hi, thanks for sharing, this was a great article. There were so many great ads in the series for the 1965-66 era Ford Mustang that had were more dramatic and had more impact than the one included in the article. Check out the following (google search): "Six and the single girl", "Should a man in his 50's be allowed out in his Mustang?", "Agnes and the Willow Lane Whist Club", "Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children", "' I think I'll slip into something more racy for Harry'", "Sweetheart of the Supermarket Set", and many more. It was a great series of ads by the Mad Men of the 60s, J. Walter Thompson agency.
Should coulda woulda bought something like the Olds W-30 or W-31. A financial stretch for sure, but I probably could have afforded one. However, with a new wife and child, I ended up being practical and bought a 70 Nova coupe (not SS) with a 350 2bbl. At least it had a 4-speed and rally wheels!
I just now remembered a Ford TV ad from the early 1970s: A young couple is standing next to a Pinto extolling its virtues. One of them says something like, "It even has posi-trac steering!"
It was no doubt written by ad guy who was told to mention "rack and pinion steering". Have to assume that several managers signed off on it, which tells us how little the top Ford brass and Madison Avenue folks actually knew about their products.