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Marketing of cars is really relatively easy: You simply have to ensure that the consumer wants to be in the situation portrayed in the advertisement for the given car. To achieve this, sensual and pretty women were highly effective. But today we shall have a look at what is perhaps the only alternative which can compete with those beautiful women draped over a new car while admiring the male owner.

The problem with ladies in adverts for cars is a relatively new one. Ehrm… or maybe you weren’t even aware that it had become an issue? But it has something to do with women’s liberation and equal rights, and seemed to really gather momentum as political correctness made its grand entrance. Or maybe it was a far more practical reason such as market forces, where it might have suddenly occurred to some bright spark, that as women left the kitchen and entered the workplace, they were now earning their own money and suddenly cleavage and nipples weren’t a particularly effective sales pitch – seeing as they obviously had their own.

One of the most legendary automotive adverts. At this point the MGB was an old model, but the woman certainly isn’t. Try – just try – not to stare at her nipples. Frankly, it’s an impossible challenge.

Feel like purchasing new tyres?

…or maybe some car wax? It’s practically a given – of course you do!

WhateverJames Hunt was trying to sell here, I’m pretty sure it would have worked.

But luckily, the marketing people have an alternative. From a political correctness point of view; a much more subtle alternative. And few adverts display the effectiveness better than this particular one for the not-so-amazingly-desirable Talbot Tagora:

A Talbot Tagora really isn’t a very appealing package, so it desperately needs a dose of exclusivity and sex. Should one wish not to use a woman in order to achieve this, an aircraft can often do the job just as well.

It’s true, isn’t it? There’s not a single hot and scantily dressed woman in sight, but the aircraft in the background still manages to give the utterly boring Tagora an aura of masculinity, testosterone and a hint of cosmopolitan pilot mystique. Admitted, there’s a bit more to it than that, as there are several things going on in the advertisement. The funky eighties alloy wheels and not least the yellow headlights undeniably have part of the honour too.

This is where even I will claim that women in automotive adverts just aren’t quite as effective as the aircraft. The aviation theme instills the given car with a degree of status, which probably especially speaks to the more mature men, who more than likely actually have the means to purchase this new dream car. Furthermore, as an added bonus, it’s only fair to presume that this advertising trick is equally effective on feminists and other liberated women, who presumably are just as interested in aircraft as anyone else who has enjoys travelling and adventure. There’s certainly no denying that it’s a well-used marketing trick – as displayed in the picture gallery below:

As I’m probably more old-fashioned than I am politically correct, I rather appreciate when they combine the two effects as Lotus did here:

And as it is after all Friday, with the oncoming weekend just around the corner, I feel it’s highly appropriate to remind ourselves exactly what us men would like to find withinthat waiting aircraft. I acknowledge that there can of course be slight variations of the theme, but my personal aircraft parked just behind my Maserati Indy looks something like this:

ViaRETRO-bonus-question: There is manipulation and deception going on in one of the pictures from the gallery – can you identify which one?


7 Responses

  1. Espen

    Well, that’s either the world’s tallest man or the world’s smallest 924 :)

  2. bob buckby

    Bond did it best with this! Both built at Preston in Lancashire, Ding Dong!
    Chocks away ladies!

  3. Anders Bilidt

    Mmmmmmm… a favourite theme of mine: Classic cars and aviation tied into one. :-)

    @red-baron, you’re certainly not wrong there! No other automobile marque has quite as strong ties with aviation. But which Saab picture would then be your favourite?

    I’m of course biased towards BMW, and for me it simply has to be this one…

  4. yrhmblhst

    Hmmm… as for the bonus question…that doesnt appear to be James Hunt in the photo captioned such. Whilst not overly familiar with advertising in European magazines – at least ones not in English – I’d hazard a guess that either the 924 ad has been diddled with , or the Mercedes ad; something about it doesnt look quite right, if the first guess isnt what you were looking for.
    Agreed – to a point – that aircraft work well in advertising ; the connection is to portray speed, engineering, adventure and status. No problem there. However, I think women work well also, and not JUST for men. It depends upon the woman and the target audience; a great example is the ProTrac tyre poster shown above. Their target audience was the young male musclecar/hot rod owner. This was out when I was working in a parts store, and we never sold a set of those tyres to anyone much over 30, and never to a girl as far as I can remember. [in fact, we may have even made more money selling that poster than we did on the tyres…] Pro Trac knew their demographic and targeted same effectively.
    However, a tall, elegant, fashionably clad woman can [ and has been ] be used effectively for advertising to both sexes. The , uh, ahem, ‘more mature’ man AND women of most age ranges like the look of such a person and would like to be associated with that image and all its connotations… Just gotta know your target market. same thing with using motorsports – need to know your market. But women and dogs work for nearly every demographic -as do, to an extent, aircraft; just need to be selective how you portray the woman.
    [oh….and the only ‘advertising trick’ that would be effective on “feminists’ {who are the antithesis of feminine} would need to show a mans head on a chopping block or his privates in a vise… dont get me started.]

  5. Claus Ebberfeld

    @yrhmblhst nailed it: The Mercedes ad is not very period correct. Or rather, it is – except for the newer car in the background. Fine story about the money made on the posters rather than on the actual product :-).


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