Saturday, May 6, 2017

Impressing People You Don't Know - Car Commercials from the 1950's

These ads are right-up front with their shallow approach.  Who doesn't want to impress the bag-boy at the grocery store or the valet parking attendant?

I mentioned before in this blog that a lot of marketing and consumerism is aimed at impressing people you don't even know.   And I assume a lot of people think I have my head up my ass when I say this.   After all, why would anyone care what people they don't even know think about them?

Why indeed?

But the reality is, we do care.  We buy overwrought cars, and designer coffee drinks (held head-high, label out, so everyone can see!) and Apple status products (with a little hole in the case so the apple logo will show through!) so that everyone will know that we are important and that we matter.

It is a human thing, I guess.  We all want to be different and unique and have status in one form or another, whether it is showing off apparent wealth, bad-assedness, or political or social values.  Cars are just an obvious form of status-seeking behavior, whether we want to be bad-ass monster truck drivers, sophisticated Euro-sedan drivers, politically correct hybrid owners, or super-rich exotic car pilots.

What struck me about the first ad in the video above, was how up-front the narrator was about all this.   Buy a new Chrysler and your neighbors will look on in envy!   Drive onto the golf course (they let you do that in the 1950's I guess) and your foursome will drool over the "Flite-Sweep styling"!

But then it gets weird.   The bag-boy at the grocery store is impressed by the car, and the narrator says, "he knows what he's talking about!"   I guess women want to be validated by the bag-boy, or maybe Mrs. Robinson is trying to seduce him.

The strangeness gets stranger. The valet parking attendant is impressed with the car and eager to drive it - implying that he might do a few hot laps with your Hemi while you are out shopping.  And again, the ad is up-front that this is desirable, to impress strangers with your car.

Well, OK, that was 60 years ago.  We've become more sophisticated today, right?  No, not really.