Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The power of advertising

Somewhere outside Detroit, 1990:  "Hey Maury, we've got 500 acres out back filled with station wagons that we can't give away.  We need to move 'em or the boss is gonna have us inventorying radiator hoses in Fargo for the rest of our careers."

"I hear 'ya Ralph."  *long pause*  "OK, how 'bout we try this:  Why don't we pry off those little chrome stick-on things that say 'Vista Wagon Family Truckster' and re-badge them 'Sport Utility Vehicle'?  Sounds sexy, huh?  What....too long?  OK then, SUV." 



And thus was born the runaway bestseller Ford Explorer, the original SUV.


Never mind that Land Rover....


....and Jeep had them 40 years earlier.  The difference?  By the 1990's Ford was a master marketer and advertiser, while Jeep and Land Rover were still hawking theirs in Field and Stream and The Sheep Rancher's Gazette.

Yesterday I was sitting on my balcony watching the cars go by on Warren Parkway below me.  What I noticed was a few soccer mom's in their minivans with the little stick figure window decals....you know, dad and mom, some old guy in a wheelchair, two kids, and a couple of pets....along with the bumper sticker that says "My child is an honor student at Betty Sue Shnurtner Middle School".

Then there were a few pickup trucks, the beds still holding a bunch of empty beer cans and a turned over cooler from the weekend, with their bumper stickers proudly proclaiming "My kid won early release from the Texas Department of Corrections".

Then aside from a few sedans, all the rest were Sport Utility Vehicles, or as they like to call them today, "crossover" vehicles.  Seems like everyone wants a crossover, which I find odd as they're nothing more than old fashioned station wagons.

The car companies can't seem to make them fast enough.  The funny thing to me is these same car companies have been telling us for years that they can't bring their cool European "hatchbacks" to the US because Americans won't buy hatchbacks.  Oh really?  Lemme think....hatchbacks have doors at the back that open up.  Crossovers have doors at the back that open up.  Hmmmm... 


I think someone forgot to give Rolls Royce....


....and Bentley


....and even Lamborghini, the bad news.

You think maybe we could convince them to call them "station wagons" again?  Then the back pasture would fill up with them all over again and we could buy them at fire-sale prices.  *Interest free financing for 200 months!  But wait....there's more!  The first 50 callers will get absolutely free....*  

That's about the only way I could ever afford a Lambo.  No, probably not even then.  :(

Damn you Maury and Ralph!

S

17 comments:

  1. I would never own a station wagon, but I love my SUV...you telling me I've been played?

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    1. Joe, YOU....played? NO WAY! You're much too smart for that! :)

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    2. Well, maybe. Move over....I have one too. ;)

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  2. The ultimate insult to the original woody station wagons you saw cruising around when we were kids was slapping some wood grain vinyl on the side of a mini van and calling it a "town and country wagon."

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    1. Totally agree....what a joke! And to think some auto exec signed off on that stupid scheme. And the worst part was, about 2 years later you could see them driving around with the torn vinyl flapping in the breeze at 55 mph. Hahaha!

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  3. I had a Volkswagen Quantum station wagon we bought when we were moving to Mexico because, you know, they make VW's in Mexico so we'll have no problem with service and repairs. Ha! They make VW Beetles in Mexico and back in the mid 80's they didn't have all that stuff under the hood of my Quantum. But with great shade tree mechanics and lots of duct tape and wire that baby kept running. And running. Between Zacatecas and Saltillo is a stretch of 230 miles or so that is nearly straight as a string with little traffic. My V-dub hummed along at 105 mph and I used to say to SWMBO "German engineering!" With the news on the diesel VW's of today I wouldn't be saying that with any pride.

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    1. Are you sure you were going 105 mph? VW may have had software back then that SAID you were going 105, but it may have been only 85.

      Duct tape and wire, huh? To paraphrase that old aviation adage, "The are old VW drivers, and there are bold VW drivers, but there are no old, bold VW drivers." HAHA! Glad you're still here to share your story. ;)

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  4. My parents used to have the old-style station wagons. It's too bad no one makes those anymore.

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    1. But they do. We've just put a little...OK, a lot...of lipstick on that pig. And I like mine! :)

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  5. My RAV is practically a station wagon, but actual station wagons seem so uncool.

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    1. Ummm...if it looks like a duck, and swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck.... ;)

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  6. I have a little Honda Fit. It's like a station wagon cut in half.

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    1. Yep, it's a winner. All the car mags love it, as does Consumer Reports. My little Mazda is on their keeper list, too. :)

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  7. You gave me balcony envy again. Ah the sights you have. I have not been outside the house in 24 hours, rain and snow mix. I have been a minivan guy for years...because aircraft cowlings fit inside easy.

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    1. Minivan guy, huh? So does your bumper sticker say, "I was an honor graduate of Embry Riddle"? ;)

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  8. We bought a minivan back in the early 90s - we wanted something that would haul stuff, that also had front wheel drive (we lived in the NC mountains & Mike's Ford Ranger slid all over the place in the winter). Since then we've had a Jeep Cherokee and an Aztek. The good thing about these vehicles as compared to my mom's old station wagon is that they're about 2/3 as wide as that thing - I would never have been able to park it!

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  9. What an interesting analysis on advertising. I would have never thought that these same vehicles would have never been sold if they had not undergone a name change. The name change really made them stand out by sounding cool and slick. How crazy is that? This article really has me thinking a lot about advertising and how the business world works.

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