The Buick LeSabre was a full-size car made by General Motors from 1959 to 2005. Prior to 1959, this position had been retained by the full-size Buick Special model 1936–58). Buick was one of the higher end makes from GM. For many years the Buick was nicknamed the Doctor’s car. Today, Buick is essentially a mega make of automobiles, one of the largest car brands on the market sold and manufactured globally.
Now at 5000 units of production a year, clearly Checker was never remotely a competitive threat to GM or Buick, but that did not stop GM from using a Checker in a tough and cheek comparison in a 1964 Buick Commercial
Produced by the McCann & Erickson Advertising agency, Buick operated a commercial campaign titled “What Does It Take To Be a Buick”. The commercials, featured each Buick model, and promoted the virtues of the particular model that was the subject for the ad.
McCann & Erickson had a banner year in 1964 they were also credited with creating the ESSO (now ExxonMobil) “Put A Tiger In Your Tank” campaign. Years later McCann-Erickson would herald “It The Real Thing” and produce the famous Hilltop Coke commercial. Clearly this was a company that produced great copy.
The ads created for Buick were very fast paced with a lot of stop camera action, rapid pan & scan mated to a brassy big band, very hip for 64. The cinematography is actually very similar to many popular music videos that appeared in the early 1980’s.
In the commercial for the high end Buick LeSabre, Buick positioned that when you own a new 64 LeSabre you’ll always use your new Buick when traveling with friends, You’ll brag about gas mileage and parking attendants will call you “sir” not buddy. People will think your were promoted, trips will be more pleasurable. If you bought that LeSabre, you even get better treatment from cash wash employees.
Now where does the comparison come into play, well the final pitch in the ad proclaims that you’ll kick yourself when you realize that for the same price but with less features, you almost purchased one of THEM! The background music strikes a muted woodwind Wah-Wah effect. How rude?
What was the THEM? The quick action camera work points to a Checker Marathon, coming out of the cash wash.
THEM, this writer has never thought of a Checker as a THEM. Well we’ll forgive the folks at Buick and McCann for their dispersions. The folks responsible for the advertisement probably never spent any time in a luxurious Checker Marathon A12 limo, clearly they were un-informed about Checker luxury. Oh, and you could fit twice the number of people in a Marathon than a LeSabre!
To see the complete ad, check out the LeSabre video, don’t blink, you might miss the Checker!
Here are a few more advertisements from the campaign