13 May 2016

They don’t sell ‘em like this anymore: Five iconic automotive ad campaigns

A new model’s success hinges largely on how its promotion is received. In the automotive world, there are many memorable advertising campaigns, some due to dramatic imagery, photographic or illustrated, for others humor was key. But few have become iconic. Below are five that are. And if one of your favorites was neglected, let us know in the comments.

1960s GTO: Colorful ads filled with intimidating tigers, intimidating GTOs, attractive, yet intimidating, women in tiger print jumpsuits or a combination of all three subjects was suggestive eye candy that consumers just couldn’t pass up. It was a simple formula designed to appeal to men. It probably wouldn’t fly today, but in the era of animal-print jumpsuits, the GTO’s roaring, big cat movement is certainly one of Pontiac’s most memorable campaigns.

1960s VW Beetle: Volkswagen’s “Think Small” campaign capitalized on a perceived weakness to sell thousands of cars. Additionally, they almost challenged potential customers to purchase something outside the mainstream – very forward thinking considering the counterculture’s explosion. VW clearly defined who they were through advertising, and remained successful while demand grew for muscle and larger family cars — forever changing ad culture as a whole.

1960s Mustang: While several other manufacturers’ advertisements catered to the era’s responsible adults, the Ford Mustang focused on America’s youth—a wise move. Not only did it grab young drivers’ attention, but middle-aged consumers also bought in because the car came to symbolize youth, through its branding.

1950-60s Cadillac: Cadillac’s series of advertisements featuring their famous crest made of jewels and necklaces, courtesy of Harry Winston, accented their emphasis on life’s finer things. These ads ran for nearly a decade — from the early ‘50s through the early ‘60s — and reinforced Cadillac’s “Standard of the World” slogan. If that isn’t a successful ad campaign, we’re not sure what is!

1898 Winton Motor Carriage: The Winton Motor Company began producing vehicles around 1897, and ran the first motorized car advertisement in 1898. While they may not look like much, these early advertisements set the standard for future auto industry ad campaigns. By 1900, the Winton Motor Company ran the largest factory of gas-powered cars. Unfortunately for them, competitors’ caught on quickly.

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