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.

12 comments:

Doyen said...

One has to wonder if an ad like this could be done today? With "safety this" and "liability that" I imagine lawyers and insurance companies would put the stop to it. But... oh what a wonderful ad it could be...

old chevrolet said...

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Brent Fullard said...

I remember this ad well. Thought it was cool then.....and cool today.

Anyone associated with it should be proud.

Jack Keenan said...

Jim,
Jack Keenan. Still around. 92 years old.So you had better be careful about what you write.You have done a great job. I wish that we had a collection of Ford ads. Maybe someone at Ford might have stored them in a historical file.I was with J.Walter Thompson (the World's and the U.S. largest advertising agency). I've gotta throw that in, for 39 years. Creative director and V.P. for some of that time.I spent s lot of time in New York and we all spent a lot of time in Palm Springs.I even spent over a month in France introducing the French Ford Versailles. You can't beat that.Even though Ford sold their French car to Simca. JWT, part of a"team", still has the Ford account. Hopefully, we'll have it long as CE.
I'm still painting. going to Lifetime four to five days a week and enjoying free meals from all of my kids. Jack

Jim Bernardin said...

Jack,
Thanks for the nice note. You caused us a lot of worry and we were always looking for ways to stay a step or two ahead of you and Ford. I wish someone had a collection of Ford ads too. Along with those of Chevrolet they represent an interesting period of American life. And I believe the artists, photographers, art directors, and writers deserve to be remembered. They made a considerable contribution to the culture of the time.

I haven't added to my blog in a long time because I have been writing a book similar to the blog. It is nearly finished but I don't know if it is worth publishing. Still, it was worth getting what I remember about those days down on paper. I note that many writers in the auto buff magazines call that time --the golden age.

You outlasted me in terms of service. I spent 35 years at Campbell-Ewald but also had a couple years at Benton and Bowles on the Studebaker account and began at Kenyon and Eckhardt on the Lincoln- Mercury business.

I am happy you are doing well and would like to communicate with you but don't know how.
Jim

bridget keenan mcelroy said...

Jim, I told my dad that you responded to his comment. He was going to send you his email address but it looks like he hasn't done that yet. Here it is

Jack Keenan

elljk@comcast.net

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Anonymous said...

I just recently stumbled upon this website. Great stuff! I have a 64 Impala, so those ads are of particular interest to me. Thanks for taking the time to create this website!
-Dave

Zoran said...

Great article, thank You.

Zoran

Avery Wilson said...

My husband is obsessed with cars and sometimes I think he loves them more than me! He works at a Chevy Service Center which he considers a dream job! He loves vintage cars as well and I'm sure he would love to read your blog. I am going to forward it to him!

Anonymous said...

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