Friday, October 9, 2009
I just found this old ad and I'll bet nobody has seen it for years. It ran in Hot Rod, Motor Trend, Automobile Topics, and Car Life for April of 1962. I always liked the '62 Chevy and especially the SS version of the convertible. The styling was and still is exceptional in my opinion. So why not show how great it looked? By April there were already lots of Impalas on the road and lots ads that showed it's beauty. The assignment here was an ad for the buff books with emphasis on performance. I began to think about that pedal called the accelerator and the idea of acceleration with our impressive SS models. So I looked up the word "accelerator" in the dictionary. And there it was--great copy with no effort. The visual was a given and to my surprise the ad sold. I think either David E. Davis Jr. or Ray Clark finished the copy for me. It was very unusual back then to see a car ad with no product illustration. Unusual today too.
Monday, August 31, 2009
This is the cover of the Corvette Catalog Folder for 1961. It was shot at the GM Proving Grounds near Milford, Michigan. Shooting there was a real challenge because there was so much security involved. Arrangements to shoot there had to be made far in advance and approved by about a hundred people--or so it seamed. Each person to be there had to have been cleared in advance. There was always a wait when everybody arrived at the gate office and had to have their identity checked and approved once more. Then you had to have a special driver to get you around the facility. Only these guys knew all the regulations and could keep you from trouble. Your pre- selected location had to be cleared and closed to other traffic. Someone from Chevrolet had to be with you and responsible for all you did. You were not allowed to see into any of the other divisions buildings.
Our location was a good one in that it didn't look like the proving grounds. It could have been almost any smaller road in America. The person standing with the camera is Warren Winstanley's assistant. Warren was the photographer for this and all the other shots in the catalog. The two fellows in the car were models. The rear view was on the cover because it represented the newest thing about the Corvette. Not only was the styling new but there was a real trunk for the first time. The rear styling gave a good look at what the Stingray would be like in a couple of years but nobody knew that at the time. The car isn't really moving but the illusion of some dust was created by throwing some cement powder at just the right time. I even helped with that on occasion. I had all the fake rally signs made back at our office along with the '61 sign that eliminated the need for other cover copy. This and the picture to follow are often used in publications about Corvettes. I wish I could remember who wrote the copy--maybe Vic Olsen.
This is page two of the '61 catalog and a nice transition from the rear view of the Corvette on the cover. Not much changed here except for some detail in the grill. Our model doing the driving gives a good impression of really moving but once again a little cement powder thrown on each side of the car helps with the illusion. This was a very modest catalog by todays standards. It was really only a folder and cost little to produce. Still, if you have one it is worth quite a few bucks and if you have the Corvette it is worth a ton.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
This is an ad about a 1973 TV commercial. As I recall it ran only in Life magazine--maybe the Saturday Evening Post too. The commercial was a repeat of one done years before in the same location with pretty much the same result--great impact and recall. The original was called "Pinnacle" and was a real stopper at the time. There were reports of airline pilots doing a double take as they saw a car on top of the 2000 ft. high rock as they flew by. Both commercials were leadership statements about Chevrolet and it's position at the time. I made the recommendation to Chevy for the second version represented here. For lots of reasons advertisers seem reluctant to repeat ideas even when they are very good ones. Or maybe it's the creative people in the agency that feel they just can't use a concept thought of by someone else, at another time, even if it was a great idea. All of us making the ads want to do the next great one and the credit that goes with it. This is the only time I can remember asking Chevrolet to redo an idea and now that I look back I think I should have done it more often.
I didn't go on the shoot for the commercial because all the pre-production and production needed were obvious when we viewed the original spot. I did however ask for a bunch of stills so I could put together an ad later. At the time there were very few ads and commercials that worked hand in glove together. The pictures in the ad kind of tell the story of how it was done and the copy tells the story of how Impala had improved over the years. There is more to tell about how it was done. The engine was removed along with the transmission, doors and trunk lid to lighten the car as it was lifted by the helicopter. Reassembly took place on top of the rock where it was discovered to be very windy and kind of dangerous especially for the young lady model. There wasn't a lot of extra room around the car for the model unless she was close to the edge so Doug Mahoney hid in the trunk of the Impala and held on to a rope wrapped around the young lady's waist as she waved to the camera in a helicopter. Doug is seen in one of the pictures helping the model into the helicopter. He was in charge of our LA facility where we prepared cars and trucks for ads and commercials--a jewel of a guy who could make things happen.
When the shoot was all over and the commercial and ad in the works Doug presented me with a memento of the shoot--a small piece of rock from the top of the location mounted on a wooden base with an inscription that dated the event. I still have the "trophy". Thanks Doug.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
This is an interesting ad to me because of the people in it. The ad itself is pretty good and was shot by Warren Winstanley. I think we were at the Metropolitan Beach parking lot near Detroit. We used that location often when we needed a plain background. Chevrolet saved a little money when we used our family as models. The young lady in the car is Warren's daughter and the young man, I think may have been her boy friend. The "younger brother" in the back seat is my oldest son Tom. They were paid and had to sign a model release but didn't earn what real models would earn. It was fun for Warren and me to have our kids see what we did for a living. It is hard to see at this picture size but Tom is being offered a dollar to get out of the car and let his sister go alone with her boyfriend.
Another interesting aspect of the ad is that Tom, the little guy in the back seat, got into the ad business too. He did pretty well and is now World Chairman and CEO of Leo Burnett
Friday, July 31, 2009
When you work for an ad agency you quite often get assignments that are not to your liking. They come about for a variety of reasons beyond your control--- sometimes beyond anyones control. I have always tried to cope with these situations by taking the attitude that there are no bad assignments only bad solutions. And, I have found over the years
that it is very true. If you can bring a positive attitude to every assignment the chances are you can do something better than was expected. Make a silk purse out of a sows ear... so to speak. There are always sales going on for all car accounts and today even more so than ever. It's easy to just do what is expected---show a couple of cars and some big type and get it over with. But then every once in a while maybe something different can be done.
In this case we had Double Dividend Days to deal with. I had been in the meeting where the slogan was born. Bob Lund was the Chevy Sales Manager at the time and he was convinced that Chevrolet needed some kind of event to boost sales. The ads that had been shown were not to his liking and as he made his his comments he became more and more animated. Back then our account guys always made sure each client had the proper cigarettes, mints and chewing gum in place at their seat. Bob began talking about needing something like "Dividend Days" only better. Then he noticed his Wrigley Double Mint Gum and he stood as he nearly shouted that the event should be "Double Dividend Days!!!" Thanks Mr. Wrigley.
You don't win awards for ads like these but you know you have done the best you can with the problem at hand. Mr. Lund and Chevy wanted some retail- like nearly full page newspaper ads that would support the new theme and work with other promotional material for the dealers.
Bill Graefen did the copy for both ads and I put together the layouts. We were a little surprised at the good reception they received. They were very visible in the newspapers and did the kind of job Chevrolet needed at the time. The headline for the lower ad is pretty small as shown here but says---Shhhh.....don't tell your Chevrolet dealer it isn't August. Back then August was always a big car sale month to get rid of inventory and be ready for the new models.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
In 1962 the Bureau of Advertising of the American Newspaper Publishers Association said that this Chevy ad achieved the highest ad noting among all ads for that year. The research was conducted by Starch-MMN.
Now that's the kind of recognition you like to get when you are a young ad maker. I made the layout with the four cars because Chevrolet had been asking for multi car ads to show off the all they had to offer. David E. Davis Jr. wrote the wonderful copy to go with it. That was the way we worked back then. Sometimes I came up with a picture idea and David E. would write copy to go with it and other times he would write a headline (sometimes copy too) and I would make the visual to go with it. What fun we had and what good work we did. We were pretty much beginners and just wanted to do good stuff. We weren't making a lot of money and David E. sometimes did some writing on the side. If you ever come across some good stories in an old buff magazine by a fellow named W. Frank Street that will be David E. Davis Jr. I used to pick him up on the way to work when he lived on West Frank Street in Birmingham MI.
Times were much different back in 1962 at Campbell-Ewald and maybe other agencies too. David and I didn't get invited to the luncheon for the presentation to Chevy and we didn't get our picture taken with the Chevy ad manager. In fact we didn't know about the award until we saw the story in the local paper. No matter we were happy for the ad and for Chevrolet. Like I said we just wanted to do good stuff.
Jose Calvillo did the art for all the cars and background. I think it was Jim Jackson that did all the people. It was not unusual back then to have more than one artist work on an illustration. At the time newspapers were where Chevrolet spent the most money. To quote Ted Little, our Chairman and CEO, " We're convinced that is where we get the most results for our money".
Friday, July 24, 2009
I have won a bunch of awards over the years for ads I made but this is the best of all. I present it now because I finally came across the above letter. It isn't an award from some bunch of ad guys but from a fellow that saw the ad and bought the Corvette. The letter went to The New Yorker magazine and they sent it on to the agency where it made the rounds. David E. Davis Jr. wrote the copy and Warren Winstanley shot the picture looking out over the Pacific Ocean. I guess it isn't really an "award" but the kind of recognition that counts even more. I have always been very pleased with it. The ad has the kind of simplicity I always thought was important and a warm human touch in both the picture and the copy that seems to be missing in so many ads today. If you can find a copy of The New Yorker for July 7, 1962 or Sports Illustrated for June 11, 1962 you can have the ad Mr. Nelson saw. And if you happen to have a Corvette like the one in the ad you have something even better and worth a ton these days. I wonder if Mr. Nelson was a bald guy? I'll bet he was.
You can see many more old Corvette ads from this campaign way down near the beginning of my blog.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
This is one of the announcement outdoor boards for the 1969 Chevrolets. It was shot on one of our experimental shoots at the GM Proving Grounds in Mesa, Arizona. Warren Winstanley was the photographer. We had been shooting all day but looking for one last shot before the sun went down. We set up at some distance with a long lens that I liked to use. This was made with a 35 MM camera. At the time our powers that be back at the agency had forbid us to use anything that small. They thought it wouldn't produce a sharp picture. I and Warren liked shooting with the small camera and Warren even bought a special long lens that we called the "big eye". My way around the problem was to go ahead and use the 35MM camera and then have the shot I wanted to use transfered to an 8x10 sheet of film. The powers liked to look at large pictures and didn't ever catch me. We went back to the 35MM film for reproduction. The thing I liked best about this shot was the way it illustrated the little styling bulge above the wheel wells. In regular light this styling feature was not very visible but surely made a fine contribution to the good looks of this Chevrolet. Chuck Felt may have written the copy. He was the Chevy creative director at the time and the author of the very aggressive copy we were using. One last thought on the picture. This is a very honest depiction of the car. You can tell by the vertical oval on the wheels that we didn't use a stretch lens. Everyone, including us, used a stretch lens to make the cars look a little longer and more like styling illustrations. When used the wheels were perfectly round or slightly oval in a horizontal direction.
Monday, July 13, 2009
This is a fine example of the importance of newspapers to Chevrolet. It is four consecutive full pages that ran in every major paper in the country. And the following black and white ads shown below are follow up ads. Newspapers do not represent the major communication media today that they did back then when nearly everybody got their news from their local paper. My how things have changed. These were all what was called "run of press ads". All that means is that there was no special paper used or anything done to help the ads appear better. Later we would run four page units printed on better paper and in full color.
The aggressive and competitive nature of the copy was the concept of Chuck Felt who was Chevy creative director and my boss at the time. It was a major shift in Chevy communications. Chuck wrote some of the ads himself and was very demanding that all the ads follow the format.
The photographs for the Caprice and Impala ads were shot on the Wabeek Farm just off Long Lake Road in West Bloomfield, Michigan. The area is full of condos and large homes today but back then it was farm land with cows roaming the pasture where we did the photography. At the time I lived on Pine Lake and the location was only about a mile from my home. Warren Winstanley was the photographer I worked with and he lived way over near Lake Sinclair. Usually I had to go to a location he found but this time it was my find. To do the pictures required everyone to be on location before dawn with plenty of time to get the shot set up. The cars had to be brought in by covered vans and all the models there on time. It is amazing the number of people it took to make a major photograph. There had to be a number of police on hand too. They were usually off duty officers that had permission to act in our behalf to keep the onlookers away and help with security. We made several pictures at this location. The Caprice newspaper ad and the Impala ad shown above plus a follow up magazine spread and a couple shots not used. Warren was always happy to oblige me in shooting extra pictures because quite often they would be turned into ads and he would receive the going rate for them. I always thought it was a good deal for everyone because all the major expense for trucking the products, getting the models, renting the cops, and using the photographers talents had already been paid for. Film was the cheapest thing we had and a little extra time paid off for everybody. One last little thing, the model in the Impala ad is one of out art directors. I thought he looked better than any of the models we looked at and we used him in this shot and a magazine spread too.
I had a small extra expense while we were on location at the Wabeek Farm. I had driven my 1966 Corvette to the location and while we were busy shooting one of the Wabeek cows decided my radio antenna looked like pretty good eating and tried to bite it off.
The Chevelle and Camaro ads were photographed by Dennis Gripentrog with Tony Longo acting as art director. They were shot on location at a gravel pit in Oxford, Michigan. The Camaro ad is a good example of what can happen when you get good people together. While they were making the ad they also made another shot that produced the follow up ad that I like so much-"Ask the kid that owns one." If you look close at both pictures you will see it is the same young lady in both ads. She is wearing the same outfit too. Most likely the same situation I described above with Warren Winstanley. Tony got Dennis to do an extra shot that turned into a great ad.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
This is one of my very favorite ads. For me, Chevy ads don't get much better than this. The version above is for newspapers and the same ad ran in all the big magazines of the day. The magazine color ad is even better than this with a bright red car. The copy was by Jim Hartzell and he goes right to the youth market we were looking for with Camaro. Jim produced a ton of outstanding work for Chevy including the very memorable "Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet". That theme continues to come up in references to Chevy today even though it received very little play back then. Tony Longo did the art direction for the ad. He and Hartzell worked together to produce many of the best ads ever done for Chevrolet. We called Tony "Captain Pops". I don't remember why but Tony was one of those talented people you just had to like. Jim is still with us but Tony went to that big ad agency in the sky many years ago. For this ad I think Tony used Dennis Gripentrog for the photography. Dennis did lots of wonderful work for us over the years and was a leader in understanding how to make great shinny product illustrations. He had a way with lady models too.
This is a really fine headline and copy for the newly restyled Nova. It looked a lot less like an economy car and offered lots that other competitive makes didn't offer. I especially like the double meaning in "You won't clutch at its price." The new Torque-drive transmission was being offered and it eliminated the clutch pedal. And Nova was a real Chevy value. This was shot on a prototype model at the GM Tech Center across the street from our office on Van Dyke in Warren Michigan. I think the art direction was by Tony Longo and if that is so the photographer was Dennis Gripentrog. I am always surprised today at how many people are fixing up Novas from around this period. I see some with very special engines that could compete with just about anything. I always liked the way they looked too.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
The key word in the headline is competitive. That didn't mean all other GM offerings. But it did mean Ford and Plymouth. Newspapers were used for much more than rebates back in the '60s. The ad content was much more like that of magazines. In fact some of the ads ran in both newspapers and magazines. There were times when newspapers were used to support sales events like "Red Tag Days" or "Double Dividend Days" but rebates had yet to be invented. This Chevy could wash it's headlights, apply liquid tire chain,defog the rear window, and keep you warm or cool automatically. Not much compared to what nearly all cars do for you now. But sometimes I kind of wish for the very old days when I could lift the hood and actually do something to the engine. My first car was a 1936 Ford and I could remove the transmission in exactly 20 minutes. That's because I had to do it so many times after removing some gear teeth trying to beat somebody at a light. I loved that car and wish I still had it. Someday I'll show some pictures and tell the story of it. The art direction was by Tony Longo and the photography by Dennis Gripentrog.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Chevelle was on its way to becoming the car enthusiasts of today like to show off at old car shows. Enthusiasts back then liked it for the same reasons. Performance, and..... performance! It was a very good looker too. With the SS 396 package it was really something. I think this ad may have been shot by Dennis Gripentrog with art direction by Tony Longo.
The facts in this newspaper ad were things you could order on the new Impala or Caprice like headlight washers or liquid tire chains. Perhaps not the strongest available options but presented in a very forceful way. Another good example of the aggressive posture Chuck Felt had established for Chevrolet for 1969. I think the picture was done by art director Tony Longo and photographer Dennis Gripentrog. Copy was most likely by Jim Hartzell.
This is not an ad but something of interest that was happening back in 1969. Yes, the OJ is that OJ Simpson. From time to time, Chevrolet was interested in using sport celebrities to promote their cars and trucks. OJ had just graduated from college after an outstanding football career and was the next big name to join the Chevy effort. He would appear in at least one magazine ad. I have a copy somewhere but for now I can't find it. He and his first wife were just standing beside a car--probably an Impala. I never thought much of using celebrities that way but they may have been of use in other ways. The painting above was one of three. Another was of Knute Rockney of Notre Dame fame and the third had something to do with baseball, I think.
I and a couple other agency guys had lunch with OJ at the Recess Club in the Fisher Building, next to the GM building, in Detroit. He was very easy going and agreeable but was also making some big bucks for his trouble. We had a few prints of the painting with us and I had him sign one for my sons. We still have it and I had it framed after he became even more famous. Don't know if it is worth anything but if you happen to have a copy it is certainly an interesting piece of Chevy history.
I wish I had a color version of this ad but the black and white will have to do. What a wonderful way to tell the wagon story. The copy begins--We call them "walk-ins" because they are so easy to get into. Financially. And bodily. It then goes on to tell the story of what you get in even the least expensive model. We could have shown each wagon in a separate picture or placed them all in a row in a field with no people but that would not have had the impact and warmth of our picnic scene. These were the kind of people that were buying Chevy wagons and this was what they sometimes did with them. It was with ads like this that, over the years, we were able to build the relationship with America that Chevy continues to enjoy today. Look at the little boy standing on his head in the upper right hand corner. This shoot with real people turned into a real event with real food and enjoyed by all.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
I was very pleased with this newspaper ad for the new Chevy wagon. It is a full page ad although it doesn't look it. The ad space was spread across the lower half of two pages in the paper. Special instructions were given to make sure we got two pages that were joined rather than separated as most pages are in a paper. Chevrolet ran so much advertising in newspapers back then that they were able to make it happen. Here again we are playing to America and the special relationship we were able to build over the years in many different ways. Chevrolet popularity gets a nice plug with all the people lined up to take a seat and with the copy line-"Chevrolet's Sit-in is on". Uncle Sam at the end of the line waiting his turn is a nice warm touch too. I also like the very big type for the headline. I find it odd that art directors doing the ads now have chosen to use small type headlines for such a long time. I'll bet the copy guys would love their headlines big and bold. A good headline shown big and bold commands a lot of attention.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
This is an interesting comparison between a station wagon layout ad concept and the final version that actually ran in all the major magazines in 1970. The top ad picture was shot on the Screen Gems movie lot in California during what we called an experimental shoot. There were no approved ads to be shot but we had all the new prototypes to photograph using a few pre determined directions for each car. The wagon for '70 was all new with a very nice feature that made entering the rear seat easier than ever. We called it the walk-in wagon and made the above experimental shot with all the ladies as a demonstration of the capability. The picture for the layout is made with an inexpensive print of not great quality that has also faded some over the years. I presented the ad to the Chevrolet clients but you can guess why I didn't get it sold. The ad that ran was shot in the parking lot at the GM Tech Center in Warren Michigan. Our office was across the street on Van Dyke and when the wagon became available I called Warren Winstanley who shot the original picture in California. He arranged for a pretty young lady to meet us there and we took the picture you see below the layout. No trouble selling it. I still think the picture with the real looking ladies would have made a more memorable ad but when you are making ads you sometimes don't get to have things go your way. I am happy to get to show you both versions now.
Monday, June 15, 2009
This 1956 Chevy ad ran in a load of top magazines for April of that year -- Collier's, Holiday, Look, Time, Newsweek, U.S. News, Sunset, True, and National Geographic to mention a few. I wish I could show it in color but the black and white is the best I can do. Tony remembers the ad so it must have had quite an impact on him at the time. The theme for '56 was The Hot Ones Even Hotter with lots of emphasis on the new high performance engines available. What better way to get across the idea of top performance than to show Chevy as the tiger that leads the fire engines to the fire? I don't know who did the art but chances are it was one of Jim Hastings favorites from San Francisco. Maybe Stan Galli. The model is the "Two Ten" Sedan and one not usually shown as the principal illustration but in this case the hero. The Bel Air Hardtop is shown as the small illustration near the logo.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
This is a layout for a 1959 Chevrolet newspaper ad. It was most likely done by a studio artist in Detroit or San Francisco. Jim Hastings who was the head art director at Campbell- Ewald at the time could have done it but he was much too busy to have spent the time required to render a comp layout. This was typical of many of the ads that were shown to Chevrolet for newspaper production. Back then most ads started from a copywriters headline idea and were then passed on to the art department for development and visualization. The art director would make a rough layout and if it met with the approval of the head of copy and art along with the head of the account group (often the Chairman, a man named Ted Little) the ad would be shown to the Chevrolet Advertising Committee. The committee usually consisted of the General Sales Manager and his assistants, the Advertising Manager and his assistants or about seven or eight people. Later on Chevrolet got a Marketing Manager to add to the approval process. Looking back at the rather complex approval system it is a wonder the ads made it to the publications. This particular ad may have started with an art director or even an artist because the visual idea is so strong it seems to suggest the headline. No reason the art director or artist couldn't have written the headline too. Below you will see other comp layouts of a different nature as photography began to take the place of illustration.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Shot on the Screen Gems movie lot in LA, this 1970 Chevrolet Impala ad layout looked good but never ran. The car is a prototype with no engine. Looks real enough to be real. This is the way we got most new Chevy products early enough to shoot and turn into ads in time for announcement. Announcements were a big deal back then with all kinds of glamorous promotions. A company named Bill Sandy did the Broadway type show and movie for the dealers. We did all the advertising. All the people in this picture are real people not models. Most of them are the truck drivers that brought the cars from Detroit to LA for us as well as other helpers of Alex Nicholas. Alex is the fellow on the far right. I cant tell you how helpful he was in every way. He was the Chevy executive in charge of the cars and where they needed to be. He didn't have to pose in our pictures or have any of his people in our pictures but he was always most accommodating. We tried to treat him and his people as part of our team and it paid off for us. This ad is another that got only as far as this faded layout but gets to be published these many years later. Warren Winstanley was the photographer. The Vic Mills in the sign was one of the truck drivers. Everybody had to sign a model release and was paid a little but not as much as regular models would have been paid. The welcome home thought tied into the return of our soldiers from Vietnam if you chose to think of of that way and if not it was simply a welcome home message.
This 1970 Chevrolet Impala layout didn't sell but was shot on the Screen Gems movie lot in LA. It was made during an "Experimental" shoot when we had a fleet of Chevy prototypes to work with. This particular car had no engine and was made of plastic or whatever they used at Chevy Styling back then. We could turn it into a Caprice or an Impala as needed with a little retouching or emblem changes. The fellow with the plump lady is Alex Nicholas, a Chevrolet executive in charge of all the prototype cars and who could use them. He managed to get the cars to locations all over America when they were needed and on time. There were ads, catalogs, and television commercials to shoot for us and all kinds of film and stills for a company that did the Chevy Announcement films for the dealers. Alex was always agreeable to fill in as a model or have others on his staff help us any way they could. I wanted people to look real in our ads rather than the beautiful people we often used but Chevrolet didn't always agree. I think this would have made a memorable ad for Chevy but this is as far as it got. Faded some over the years but I am happy to show it now. I hope Alex is still with us and sees it. Warren Winstanley was the photographer. Another point. Back then art directors and photographers went to great pains to make sure the models were doing something interesting in the picture. A pretty girl just standing by the car we called a " fender polisher" and we all did plenty of those. They were usually brought about by the need for a quick picture and the lack of a strong visual idea for the ad. Photographers generally were reluctant to have the models look at the camera but I had no problem with that as you can see in the above shot. Later on we would do a complete campaign with all the models looking at the camera and getting their picture taken. That is another story.
This 1970 Chevelle experimental photo was shot on the Screen Gems lot in California. The location is on one of their streets with small town stores. The fellow looking out the door at the "Police"car is Bill Graefen, an outstanding copy writer I worked well with. We had a fleet of new Chevy prototypes to shoot but no client approved layouts. It was a wonderful way to work. We had a specific direction in mind for each car line and only crude layout ideas to shoot from. This was an easy one to set up. Borrow a "gum-ball"from Screen Gems prop department and install big tires on the rear of the car along with a police star. This was going a little too far for Chevy at the time. Or maybe it was that we had so many other shots they liked better. Warren Winstanley shot the picture along with the others on this "Experimental" shoot. I am happy to have saved the picture and to show it now. Chevrolet was very trusting of us to allow this kind of creative effort. It had taken several years to build the trust with smaller shoots of a similar nature. I'll bet some of these ads could make it through the approval process today. I don't understand why most of the auto advertising being done now shows only bright and shinny sheet metal with no attempt to make the picture contribute more to the communication. I'll bet it has something to do with computers and the ease of putting an ad together that looks very finished and slick. The problem is that all the ads look pretty much alike. A bunch of the cars already look alike too, so some ads with bold ideas in the illustrations could be helpful in making somebody stand out from the pack.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
This 1967 Chevrolet ad and several that follow are part of the same campaign in newspapers and magazines. The magazine ads can be found in old publications but the newspaper ads have long ago gone the way of yesterdays newspaper. This series of newspaper ads also represents some of the last ads that were illustrated with art rather than photography. Art would continue on for a time but the days of great art campaigns for Chevy were coming to an end. Rightly or wrongly photography was becoming more important. Some of it had to do with our art directors, probably including me, that wanted to be more of a participant in the ad making process. Going on location with the car and a photographer seemed like the way to go. The clients were inclined to like photography too. Change is always wanted by most clients, sometimes when when staying the course would be better. Newspaper reproduction was improving and photography looked pretty good. The line art we used, as shown above, still gave great reproduction in most papers. Gerry Edmison was watching over newspaper ads at this time and he had been working for me from the time we were in the experimental group. I still got my hand in when I could and did ads like this while developing the format for subsequent ads regardless of who did them. Making the ads was the most fun I ever had in the ad business.
It was fun to find little things in the new Chevrolet that would allow us to demonstrate how competitive it was with higher priced cars and how much you got when you bought a Chevy. Sure we mentioned the ash tray but the car had a big car ride like the more expensive cars too. I wish I could tell you the name of the artist but I just don't remember after all these years. Could have been Jim Jackson but then maybe not. All the things in this campaign supported the overall idea that "Chevrolet gives you that sure feeling". You could be sure when you bought it that you were getting the most for your money and you could be sure when you owned it that you would enjoy the experience. And when you sold it you could be sure you would get a very good return. Newspaper ads from this time are nonexistent today. Most were used to wrap the trash or start a fire in the fireplace, so I am happy to be able to show these along with magazine ads that are still available in old publications.
This is a 1967 Chevrolet Newspaper ad.
You will see a number of Chevy ads that compares Chevrolet to higher priced makes. Especially big brother Cadillac. Value has always been a Chevy selling proposition. This car had lots to offer anybody looking for a big car with all the features of a more expensive make. The headline is especially good in that hardly anybody would guess that Chevy had the big car with the most room. And what a nice memorable way to illustrate room and at the same time give the car a little snob appeal. I don't remember who did this ad--could have been Gerry Edmison as the art director. I set up the format with a couple other ads so that we had a strong campaign feel.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
We were using the theme line--Chevrolet gives you that sure feeling-- for all the 1967 ads. It was an idea of Ken Jones who was the new creative director on the Chevy account. Ken had been in charge of the Chevy TV commercials before his promotion to creative director. It was a move on the part of management to begin to integrate TV and print. Today the idea that print and television could be two different departments seems crazy but it was back then. Crazy too. Ken began to try to integrate the two groups but not with a lot of success. There were still TV writers and print writers. Print art directors and TV producers. The print guys were not very good at TV and the TV guys were not good at print. It would take several years and a several more people to get it turned around. I think I may have done this ad. I like the big type and I think todays art directors will soon come around to see the value of it. Most current art directors seem to be hiding their headlines with tiny type. I bet most copy writers would like to see their headlines big and bold.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Our Chevrolet client loved to tweak big brother Cadillac. With the 1967 Caprice it was possible and reasonable. The Chevrolet story has always been "more car for the money" and this was a great example. Lots of Chevy buyers were moving up to the Caprice and as the copy says some luxury buyers were moving down to Chevy. Cars were big back then and luxury was in style. There is a layout shown below that tries to get at the same point but in a different way.
This ad ran in Automotive News as I recall. It was produced by Jim Hartzell and Tony Longo. One of the most memorable leadership ads we produced. Too bad it didn't run in consumer magazines. Jim Hartzell was a copy writer with unusual talent and is better known as the creator of "Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie, and Chevrolet". He and Tony worked well together and produced some of the finest advertising for Chevy. Jim is retired now and spends his time at his home near Detroit. Tony died many years ago before we retired. It was a real pleasure to be associated with people like them.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
This is an idea and layout for a magazine ad intended to run for the '68 Chevy. I don't remember the package of advertising it was shown with but it never ran. The big Chevy was quite the car in those days and could compete with more expensive cars in many ways. I say big Chevy because the industry had yet to begin the down-sizing trend and our Chevrolet client liked to compare their top of the line with Cadillac in anyway they could. I made this ad with a primitive type setting machine we had that was used to help us make comp ads. It could have had body copy and probably should have had it. The car picture was one we had in our file. I felt pleased with the effort and still think it would have made a memorable ad for Chevy.
Most of the ads that follow are a collection of old layouts I made at various times. Some ran as magazine ads but many did not. I have had them for lots of years and thought they might be of interest to those of you interested in old Chevy ads.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
This ad layout for the new Caprice, Chevrolets most luxurious car was never approved. It was an idea I had that was presented to our Chevy client along with other ads. It says all the right things about the car but doesn't show the car itself. I had one of our art directors shoot the gentleman holding his cigar while he was shooting another ad of the whole car. It is easy to see that the fellow is in the back seat and imagine he is probably being driven by his chauffeur. Just like our big brother Cadillac. It is fun to finally get to show this ad and others below that were not chosen for publication. I am happy that I saved them and can show them now. Making advertising is not for the thin-skinned. Many of the ads you create are discarded for one reason or another. Some never make it to the client because your boss doesn't like it or someone in the agency objects to it. If it makes it to the client or clients it is often passed over for something else or rejected outright. That is the way it was back then and I know it is the way it is today. I always felt the most fun was in making the ad in the first place and if it sold that was icing on the cake.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
This was shot at the GM Proving Ground in Phoenix on a short trip there with David E. Davis Jr. -- that is him cooling his feet in the water. We had Warren Winstanley there too and he shot the picture for me. There was another view we did at the same time but neither made it into an ad. David E. and I had been working together for a long time--off and on that is. When we first met we were in a think- tank kind of thing at Campbell-Ewald. I used to pick him up in the morning on the way to work. He lived in Birmingham, MI on North Frank Street. I mention that because if you have some very old buff books you may see a few stories by a guy named N. Frank Street. Yep, that's David E. when he was doing a little work on the side. We called "sore leg work." David has done it all and most people interested in cars will remember him as the editor of Car and Driver, Automobile, and Winding Road magazines. Not all at once of course. David E. started Automobile magazine from scratch and built it into perhaps the best of the lot. He also started Winding Road on the Internet--the first of it's kind. You can still get a free subscription and it is very worth while. David E. and I made a bunch of very good Corvette ads together and a lot of other stuff too. He knew more about cars and what they could do than anybody I ever worked with and I missed him a lot when he left the agency to start his magazine. I think it was good for him because he liked the editorial business where he could express himself as he saw fit without the constant editing of the ad business. One of the great characters of our time.
The new Monte Carlo for 1970 was a real departure for Chevrolet. It was a personal- luxury kind of car with a longer hood than anything around at a Chevy price or any price for that matter. The styling was exceptional with not a lot of chrome. John DeLorean had just come to Chevrolet as general manager and took an active part in the advertising. His influence would be felt to a much greater extent in the next years advertising. We went from a sales department dominated approval process to a one man approval situation--John DeLorean. When we reviewed ads with him for the first time we were very close to the magazine closing dates. He liked the way the cars looked but wanted to know where we got all the hard looking female models in some of the pictures. He said they all looked like ladies if the night and had to be changed. The only one he thought was OK was this one in the Monte Carlo ad layout. At the time John was dating Kelly Harmon who was a very beautiful blond young lady. She was even better looking than the model in the ad and John would have her come in after hours to review the ads because he thought she represented the youth market. We just did not have time to shoot new models and strip them into the ads in question so I went through all the out- takes from this shoot and had the pretty lady above stripped into the other ads. Nobody noticed that we had the same model in several ads. The headline for this ad became the line for the outdoor announcement ad too. I take a little pride in the authorship and it fell right in with Chuck Felt's highly competitive stance for Chevrolet. Chuck was creative director on Chevy at the time. This ad did run in all the major magazines of the time. I am a little surprised that you can still buy nice examples of this car at reasonable prices. It wasn't a muscle car but it was something unique from Chevrolet and I think the best looking of all the Monte Carlos.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Monte Carlo was something very new for Chevrolet and new for the industry at the time. It was a luxury car with one of the longest hoods around that gave it a special look. It would stay that way through several body changes. It had wonderful styling that said, without a doubt, if you owned one you were somebody special. We had several other good pictures that would run as announcement ads and follow up ads so this idea was supposed to take us a step farther. It is a better idea than the execution shown here. Warren Winstanley and I were in LA and had been shooting on the Screen Gems movie lot. Some of the pictures below were taken there. For this one we had to find a good looking boat large enough to park a car on if you were rich enough to do that. The boat should have been larger so we didn't have to have the poles cutting through the car and the view or the car needed to be better to show off the styling. The car was shot back on the Screen Gems lot and stripped into the boat picture. Something that would be no problem today but a serious undertaking back then. The boat owner is too much of a character in his short pants and black socks--too much of a cartoon. He should have been a good looking rich guy. He was in reality one of the GM truck drivers. The lady beside him is the only paid model in the picture. The crew is from left to right--Bob Ovies, Warren's assistant, Bill Graefen, and me. Bob and Bill were writers on the account. If I could have sold this as an idea we would have done it over again and fixed it so that Chevrolet would have liked the car view and the people would have been better. Oh well it was an experimental shoot and most of the pictures turned out better than this. I show it anyhow along with other ideas for pictures. It could have made a great ad for Chevrolet.
For 1970 Chevrolet had some really great things to advertise. Their walk-in-wagon was especially interesting. The idea that you could actually step up into the rear seat and just sit down was very special and we made several ads later on the subject. This one didn't sell. I'll give you three guesses why and the first two don't count. I never could understand why all the people in ads had to be slim and beautiful rather than looking like real people. These delightful ladies would have been a real memorable attention getter back then and probably today too. But it was not to be. Warren Winstanley shot the picture on the Screen Gems Movie lot. The ladies came from a local church group. The reason for the rain gear you will find explained in some detail on an ad below. I am happy to have saved the layout and to show it now along with several others that didn't run.
This is a very nice picture of the 1969 Chevrolet Impala that was never made into a layout for an ad and was never used in any promotional material. Still, I show it here because it represents an attitude we were using at the time. Chuck Felt was the creative director and my boss at the time. I was in charge of all the Chevy print advertising and Richard George Petachini was in charge of the broadcast. Felt had sold Chevrolet on a very aggressive ad stance that was bold and kind of in your face or at least in the face of our competition. I thought it was very good and lots of fun to work with. The copy headlines did most of the work---One of the best was a line Chuck wrote for a picture I made of a Corvette and a Camaro in a barn. Front views with a rope across the open barn doors. A nice picture but the power of the ad came from his headline--We'll take on any other two cars in the magazine. Chevrolet was the sales leader back then and this was leadership advertising without the boastful number one claim. We went straight at the competition in a very aggressive way. The picture above was made at the same time as other pictures to be used in the announcement newspaper and magazine advertising. Warren Winstanley shot it after we had finished the mandatory shooting. I always wanted extra pictures and Warren was always happy to shoot anything I wanted. We were on location and the only extra cost was a little more film. Quite often I was able to use the extra pictures in ads and Warren would be paid the going rate for the new ad. It was good for both of us and for Chevrolet. If you enlarge the picture you will see that the pretty young lady is sticking out her tongue. With the right headline maybe....well probably not. Anyhow it made a fun picture and I get to show it now after all these years.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
This is a layout of an ad that ran for the new 1970 Impala. We had come to LA with two photographers(Warren Winstanley and Dennis Gripentrog), two art directors (with me as one), two writers, and a bunch of assistants. Also we had several account guys to make sure we ad makers stayed legal and to manage a large security detail. Then there was a group of Chevrolet people in charge of the prototype cars that had been trucked in two big covered vans from Detroit. Lots of people staying in nice hotels with lots of day to day expense. The day we arrived it started raining. Then it rained the next day and the next and the next. Not just showers but real heavy rain. I became so worried about all the money we were spending without having taken one picture that I began saving the local paper with all the headlines about the unending rain. One morning I went down to the loby of our hotel and found water running down the steps leading to the desk. Out in the parking lot the vans with the prototype cars had water up to the middle of their wheels. The rain lasted nearly a week but it finally stopped and we went to the Screen Gems movie lot to make arrangements for the next days shooting. Warren Winstanley and I chose a brownstone location for an ad idea we had and made arrangements for the car, the models, the account guys, and the photographer with his assistants to be there. Finally we were going to get started. Bright and early the next morning we arrived at the location to find that it had rained again and the location was flooded. Everybody was there including the lady models all ready to make the planned picture. We all just stood around kind of stunned. Then I said we'll go ahead and make a picture anyway. What have we got to lose? I asked Dick ONeil, one of our account guys, to go back to the hotel and put on his suit and tie. While he was gone we pushed the prototype Impala (it had no engine) to a parking place in the water in front of the brownstone. Dick came back and we made the picture you see. It ran in all the major magazines of the day as a spread. The print you see here was layout quality not reproduction quality.
Below you will see another picture situation made possible by all the rain. Sometimes it pays to take advantage of what circumstances give you. Making ads can be and should be lots of fun. This whole shoot in LA turned out to be one of our very best.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
This was one of those unexpected delights that sometimes can be found if you keep your eyes and mind open for picture opportunities. We were on our way to a location at the Disney Ranch in LA when we were confronted with a washed out road. It had been raining for several days and we were way behind on our schedule. It looked like we were not going to make it to our location but it didn't matter because here was something nobody could have imagined. I told Warren Winstanley, our photographer, that this was going to be the best picture we would make of the Chevelle SS or anything else on this trip. The Chevelle, with it's big new engines, you might imagine could leap across this road like Superman going over a tall building. We made three versions of the situation. The one you see here and two others with that featured the front of the car with the washed out road in the background. We did the one you see here first and I was satisfied that we had it but Warren argued for the other views. We often had disagreements about pictures and solved them by doing two versions. Because I was the art director I usually won out in the end but not always. Warren and I were very good friends and had grown up together in the business. I tried my very best to sell this ad to Chevrolet but we had too many other good, more heroic views of the car with good situations that they chose to use. The other views of this situation are available from the GM site and are very nice. I bought both and am happy to have them. Probably could have sold the one of the others but this one would have made the most memorable ad. This is an ad that I wish had run but I am happy to have saved the layout and to show it now. The colors in the print are faded and the retouching on the tire marks is crude but would have been made right for the finished art. Win some, lose some.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
This was shot near the location of the rope ad below. It was on one of the movie back lots where we had good security for the as yet to be announced cars. The car is a prototype Chevelle SS--and we could have it be a 396 or a 454 both of which were incredible engines for their time. The muscle car era was in and this car was one of the very strongest. Before we went to California for this "experimental" shoot we agreed upon the general positioning of the cars in the market place. This one was easy with the big stripes on the hood and the big available engines. I had the idea for the picture before we left Detroit and made the cut outs you see on the door. They represent the other muscle cars one might sit next to at a stop light and be tempted to out muscle. WWII had not been over all that long and it would be easy to recall the victory flags painted on the fighter aircraft of that war. We could even offer a package of decals to buyers of the car with the biggest engine. Warren Winstanley shot the picture for me and it was all I had imagined it could be. With the kind of things being done today for ads this idea may have had a chance to run but back then it was pushing the envelope a little too far. Nevertheless, I always felt you should go as far as possible in suggesting what the product could do especially when we were prevented from showing real high performance situations.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
This ad was shot during the same trip as some of the ads below but not on the Screen Gems movie lot. Warren Winstanley was the photographer and the concept was mine. The new Chevelle SS was available with two big engines--the SS396 and the SS 454. We were not allowed to show the cars in high performance situations in those days so we had to come up with other means of telling how it would perform if you bought one. This was done on an "experimental"shoot as were most of the other ads shown on this car. What that meant was Chevrolet gave us the prototype cars to photograph without any ad approval. They were shipped from Detroit to LA and we could do anything we wanted with them. Before we went on a trip like this we had meetings to make sure we were all on board with the kind of image we wanted to project for each car. I tried to insist that each art director, writer, and photographer put picture concepts on pads of yellow paper and show them to me before we started shooting. This worked pretty well and did not eliminate having an idea as a result of seeing something not thought of before. I still have the crude yellow paper for this ad. Warren Winstanley had one of his assistants go to the dock in LA and buy the great big rope you see in the picture. We took two views of the situation, this one and a look strait on the front end of the car. Both were used and can still be found in Chevy materials from back then. In fact you can buy a poster- size reproduction of this ad from GM. Just go to their site and look at their collection of old car pictures. A fine young writer named Dick Wingerson wrote the copy for this picture. He did many great ads for us but got away to Florida at a young age. I know he looks in on the blog now and then to make sure I get the credits right. Thanks Wings!