My son and I went to the New York International Auto Show last week (I’ll post on the show in the next few days). While walking around the show floor, I was struck by how practical marketing has become in the automotive business. Virtually everything related to promoting a vehicle has gotten so quantitative. Car names have a letter indicating the body size and a number indicating the engine size. We talk in liters of engine displacement, horsepower and torque measurements, gas mileage, cubic feet of storage space and number of cup holders. Where’s the vision? Where’s the passion and emotional connection? Where’s the promise.
What happened to the days when car companies were in charge of promoting the promise of the future? I’m thinking the celebration of winged flight, the space race or paving over a good portion of the planet so that we can get to the mall faster. Fins, wings, nose cones and rooftop windows all sent messages to the customer – be part of the amazing changes going on in the world. Be part of the future.
The messages weren’t only embedded in product design. Product names carried them as well. I just ran across a list of The Ten Best Auto Marketing Names compiled by Car and Driver magazine way back in 1993. What ever happened to great marketing labels like these?
- Go-Devil Power – 1942 Willy’s
- Velvet-Pressure Jumbo-Drum Brakes – 1953 Chevrolet
- Gyro-Torque Drive with Scat Gear for Passing – 1953 Dodge
- Kitten-Soft Seat Cushions – 1955 Chevrolet
- Scene-O-Ramic Windshield – 1955 Nash
- Trigger-Torque Engines – 1955 Ford
- Roto-Flow Torque Tube Drive – 1958 Buick
- Quadra-Poise Suspension – 1958 Pontiac
- Sculpturamic Styling – 1958 Chevrolet
- Roto-Matic Power Steering – 1959 Oldsmobile
I’ll add two of my all-time favorites to this list . . .
- Turbo-Hydromatic Transmission – Many years for GM
- Vista Cruiser – The Oldsmobile wagon with the side/roof windows
Kitten-Soft Seat Cushions. Ya gotta love it. OK, perhaps you can’t get away with that kind of schmaltz these days. Have we gotten to the point where products can’t elicit dreams, though. It seems like a real emotional attachment would provide great selling leverage. Maybe it still exists, but like many, I’ve become jaded and ignore it. Come to think of it, maybe I’m the guy being targeted with the H420-i GLX LWB Deluxe model name after all.