Saturday, April 20, 2013

Selling cars (like we always have!)

Being someone who, during my advertising career, I happened to work extensively on cars (Toyota, Lexus and Mercedes), it is always fascinating for me to find vintage car ads. However, if the compilation below (which is extensive!) shows anything - it is that we have been selling cars like we always have. Compare any of these to today's market and you will find the same techniques and the same points of persuasion. Which says a lot about today's advertising agencies - that they are still stuck in the past - when the consumer changed and is way ready for something else.
Alvis, a defunct car brand promises (rather creatively) that "Comfort is seeking you"...  "an strength and beauty and security in your hands! if you put you hand on this car".
 Buick is saying that the Skylark 1966 model is "a work of art".
 The now famous 1954 model campaign for Cadillac (it was the first time the whole range was displayed creating "buzz" among the consumers way before the real models reached the showroom) was even displayed in Kuwait.

In 1963 Chevrolet was described in feminine terms (in Arabic it is easy to discern if talking about a male or female). By then I suppose the laws were not strict enough to dispute the male and female in the same image specifically a female who did not have her hair covered and who obviously was seductively talking to the e man.
 But a way earlier version spoke of it as "male"... I guess by the brand wheel personification had changed. But the car was "very big at a cheap price".
 The body copy of the ad could have stemmed from the stylish of any of today's agencies. Same terms, same sentence structures, same descriptive words...
 Chrysler, being "the stronger car in the world" is among other things "the conqueror of the desert"... We beg to differ when it comes to over promising.

Plymouth 1950... I guess the intrinsic characteristics of this car did not matter, but the ad played heavily on "limited number of cars which will arrive very soon".
 I guess since these ads are more in alphabetic order rather than in timeline, by the time the Chrysler Valiant came, people were seeking compact and more practical cars as opposed to the big ones which were previously modeled.
Hard sell advertising for Plymouth again... As ever, short texts accompany indicative photos. Not too far from anything you see in the market these days....
 Of course the smaller Citroen (at least comparatively smaller because by today's standards it would be part of a bigger segment) was bragging about being "fast, comfortable and economical".
 Dubbing it the "queen of cars" once more the same attributes give and take are being displayed for another version of the ad of Citroen.
This ad has already been reviewed previously, but it is one of the original "get the car you get the girl" and in this case, the girl did "not marry him (the old fat man), she married the Desoto"...
 Dodge 1959 was the "bride of cars" (cue Don Harper from Mad Men saying "I hear the fins are bigger next year").
 And in 1961 even Dodge was advocating economy!
 Trucks are samples in the Gulf, specifically in rural areas - forget safety measures - and concentrate on how much load it can take, how much torque it can procure, and how much it can endure in the desert.
 Have you driven a Ford lately? Well, if lately goes back to this stretch, then you were driving a car that was "always in the lead"...
 Hillman was a car for the family, at least that was a clear positioning with among other things "a wide front seat", "electric free air conditioning", and "oil breaks".
 Now think about the logic of International Trucks: If it is the biggest in demand, it must be surely the best. And notice the stress on the 6-wheel technology and other amply emphasized in the body copy.
 So "what walks on mud and water and could not swim and that climbs a mountain in eight ways? Your instinct is correct?" Well, this is a beautiful and creative campaign for Land Rover.
 Leyland Trucks go for the kill - 14 tones on top of the truck (beat that you suckers!)...
 The Mercedes 180 - note that the 180 was not a luxury car which is why the ad is interesting but does not contain any upscale features.
 Now this is a complete surprise! I did not know that Egypt manufactured a car called Nasr 128 - but there you go, they were already delivering the first batches of it according to this ad.
 Opel Kadett naturally branded itself 'strong and economical"... Words previously used and which by then were ubiquitous for small cars.
Peugeot 404 (did you even know it was styled by Pininfarina?) - "robustness,  economy, comfort, security". For some reason this was one of the hugely popular cars in Lebanon. Was it because of that ad? I wonder.
 Pontiac 1938 with the silver line is "once more the most beautiful thing on wheels"... Below you can find it is "the most beautiful, the best manufacture, and the greatest deal"....
 Hold on to your seats for this ad from Pontiac but can you believe it promises "FREE TEST DRIVE"? Yes!!! Even then the concept had been created - which is so infuriating as it seems we did not bring anything new to the art and science of selling cars.
 Skoda, which in the 80s was the joke of cars and which did the most incredible rebranding ever (with the campaign that mocked its own self "Skoda? No really! Skoda!"). Back then however, it was still advocating "large number of spare parts" - could this be a corelation to the woman next to it? (I am not being sexist, merely trying to understand why such a copy would go with a woman next to it).
 Toyota Corona was (it seems according to the body copy) suffering from what Camry was suffering from in the early 2000s. People were picking it because it was a dependable car but had zero "pride of the owner" which is why the whole ad is geared towards flattering the ego of the consumers and telling them about the new restyling while still having the great features people looked for in Corona.
 "Why is Toyota convinced that a car need to be more than just economical?" Read above about consumer ego flattering. It only confirms my theory.
 Land Cruiser, the cars that any Gulf resident worth the weight of his desert sand swears by was marketed in a rugged environment suggesting the great outdoors of the Gulf countries.
And here's a trademark infringement! A "Jeep" from Toyota. There you have it, a car that became a generic name for a whole segment of cars... But the above machinery is a classic though and people still own theirs from one generation to the next in Saudi Arabia.
And of course what is a care without a wheel?... There you have it - three different options available:
  Dunlop emphasizes its structure which is different than ordinary tires.
Nitto are the best for for the Arabian region.

And Yokohama relies mainly on its 45 years of experience.

All of the above, is just a small trying to tell you that "plus ca change, plus ca reste la meme" (the more it changes, the more it remains the same". Pick an ugly typo, put a 2013 car model above, and you get one of our current ads on the streets today!


Anonymous said...

Man, these are horrible.

Tarek Chemaly said...

Well, they resemble the stuff you see today on the roads! Not the cars, the ads!

Anonymous said...

Yes but when you look at Lebanese music from say the seventies, it was much better. I'm afraid we can't say the same thing about advertising. It never had a golden age.

Tarek Chemaly said...

Actually you are correct in your assessment about 70s music. And the only "Golden Age" we knew in advertising was beginning to mid-nineties but of course, as proud Lebanese we did not leave any institution behind us it was more like mercantile mentality.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see some work from that era. Could you possibly share a few examples in your next posts?

Tarek Chemaly said...

I have some in my arhives, I am referring mostly the Cellis/LibanCell ads which believe it or not were quite good in the past (there was still room to tell stories back then) or The Witness of Time by Dewar's 12 Ancestor.... So maybe when the time comes I will include those. In addition the Beirut branding was exceptional:

Unknown said...

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