What Are Your Favorite Old-School Automotive Ads?
An excessive reliance on focus groups and an agenda that panders to the lowest common denominator at seemingly any cost has turned contemporary automotive advertisements into dreck. Yes, there are a few relatively recent examples of manufacturers having a little more fun with their marketing budget, like the back and forth billboard war between Audi and BMW poking fun at each other’s sports cars, but most of it is either forgetfully bland or just terrible—we’re looking at you Chevy. Your “real people” are much too easily wowed by paid-for awards and optional AUX cords, and why would anyone want to buy a car on the word of someone who knows diddly squat about them is beyond me.
That’s not to say the past is without its own faults, though. Case in point, the odd SAAB piece shown below that features “The most intelligent car ever built,” portrayed as a human-car hybrid snatched from David Cronenberg’s wastebasket of rejected body horror sketches. Very hard to believe more than one person signed off on that, and yet… But even that bizarre piece of media is at least fun to make fun of. The Chevy-type stuff just makes you lose faith in the average IQ of the world.
If you were to somehow sum it all up, it’s pretty easy to see why the brochures and ads and all manner of promotional material from the 20th century are more entertaining and as close as you can get to objectively better than what we’re stuck with now.
It’s certainly got a lot to do with the nostalgic power of the cars featured in them, but the whole presentation is just more fun, more brash, more playful, and often more artistic. We’ve flipped through our virtual stack of old magazines to pull out a few of our favorite print ads for some inspiration, but we want to know: what are your favorite, or most memorable, classic automotive ad campaigns? There weren’t as many television spots in the 1970s and 1980s as there are today for obvious reasons, but there are still some gems like Fiat’s old stunt-based series to be found too.