By on September 15, 2010

Via Hemmings News comes this delightful find from Chevymall.com: an officially licensed poster comparing women to cupholders. So, did Susan Docherty sign off on that when she was GM’s marketing boss, or is this just more evidence that GM really is a “testosterone saturated, white, American male culture”? Either way, it cements the impression that Chevrolet’s values and image stopped making progress around the same time its market share did… which, incidentally, was about the same time the poodle skirt went out of fashion.

It’s just too bad that, between the ’59 Impala, the poodle skirt, GM’s US market dominance and casual sexism, only the casual sexism seems to have survived.

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53 Comments on “Chevy Remembers When Sexism Was Cool… And So Can You!...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Dang, get over it people.  It’s just a poster.  Sounds like it’s right on the money for the target audience that would actually buy either the poster or a 1958 Impala (at a classic car dealer or auto auction.)

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Exactly – that’s one that goes in the ‘accurate representation of the times’ category.  You know, like having your arrogant father buy you a pink Aspire . . . . . . .

      Yes, I found it enjoyable.  And fitting.  And I’m thoroughly sick of the hyper-sensitive PC culture that we’ve drifted into.

    • 0 avatar

      If you actually read the commentary (let alone follow the links to find out more about GM’s recent experiences with accusations of sexism) you might find that my position isn’t “Chevy is sexist, so it must be evil,” rather it’s “this poster is so out of touch with the modern world that it reinforces the perception that the brand hasn’t made much progress (on a number of levels) in the last 60 years.” There’s a serious difference there.
      Sounds like it’s right on the money for the target audience that would actually buy either the poster or a 1958 Impala (at a classic car dealer or auto auction.)
      So it’s worth parading your brand’s greatest weakness (the fact that its best days came and went half a century ago) in a manner that could turn off large portions of the market in order to make 20 bucks at a time from aging hard-core fanboys? How does that make any sense?
       

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      1.  Other than hard core “fanboys” who even looks at the official mercandice of a company?
       
      2.  Shouldn’t GM be trying to recapture a little of the “old magic” from bygone days?  It was a diffrent time with different rules and different expectations, but tapping into that feeling I don’t believe hurts in the long run.
       
      3.  If anyone dared to do something like “boycot” GM over this, honestly the publicity would likely only drive up showroom traffic.
       
      PS: I hope GM’s best days are not behind it, but… I’m still waiting to see evidence to the contrary.  So far the future hinges on a whole lot of “ifs.”

    • 0 avatar
      Don C

      Not just a poster. It was a billboard.

    • 0 avatar

      The billboard is not out of touch at all. It just markets to people who are sick of the officially sanctioned speech codes. It’s an ad that appeals to man’s inner rebel.

    • 0 avatar
      Contrarian

      With all the (mostly good natured) husband/man bashing that goes on in female targeted commercials, it seems ridiculous to get worked up about this bit of humor. An issue not worthy of a post other than to point out its cleverness.

  • avatar
    ozibuns

    It’s simply brilliant copy, screw your sanctimonious comments and get over your own paranoia of ever being mistaken for someone with a developed sense of humour, let alone irony.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    Booth Babe? Is that you?

  • avatar
    Hank

    Who’s Ed to assume GM meant it to be a woman wearing that poodle skirt?  Now who’s trapped in 1959?

  • avatar
    ronald

    I’m with Ed. The ad’s dumb. And casually (and mildly) sexist. Don’t freak out, “get over it,” it just is. And just because you think it is funny doesn’t make it less sexist.
    Also, bitch all you want about political correctness, but if a significant portion of your potential customers finds your ads obnoxious, sales might suffer. Chevy should avoid being associated with this.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    I don’t wanna be the one to accuse GM to have a little bit of humour, but couldn’t it be that the ad is slightly ironic? Nothing hits core-values like a little bit of nostalgia…

    And, dang…. That car got curves in places where other cars doesn’t even got places…

  • avatar
    mcs

    I took at look at those posters and can see what Ed means. Several of them insult their current product line in my opinion.
    I wonder if they’re taking suggestions? I noticed they didn’t have a Vega poster. I have a good caption if they decide to do one: “When range anxiety had nothing to do with battery capacity.”

  • avatar
    TokyoPlumber

    I’d prefer to see a poster that read “Remember when our name wasn’t Motors Liquidation Company and our diaper wasn’t changed by Uncle Sam”.

  • avatar
    jandrews

     
    Best ad in a while. Chevy can’t build a car worth a shit, but at least they can come up with a good line.
     
     
    People offended by this better at least be consistent and boycott…oh, every sitcom on TV in the past ten years where the husband is a blithering idiot.
     
     
    For my part, I couldn’t stop chuckling.

  • avatar
    xyzzy

    The thing that stood out for me in that poster is the center mounted brake light?  WTF?  Those didn’t come along until the 1980s.

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    I like it.

  • avatar
    chris724

    Now I hate GM as much as the next guy, but in my opinion, complaining about this strikes me as thin-skinned.
     

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    Looks like GM is going after the TTAC demographic: angry white men who think that not being a chauvenist dick is the same thing ad political correctness. What’s next? ‘Remember when your car wash was a black guy with no other options’? It is to laugh!

    • 0 avatar

      Lighten up, Francis.
      Who needs to remember? There’s a car wash a half mile from my house and I’m sure that a lot of their black employees have no other options right now. This is the Detroit area. In any case, you could reasonably argue that a large percentage of folks working in car washes, regardless of their race, creed or national origin, are working there because they didn’t have many other options.
      Of course industrious people will find other options no matter what. Lee Iaccoca was cautioned against pursuing a career in the auto industry because of discrimination against Italians in the auto industry but that didn’t stop him.
      You can always get a lawnmower and cut grass. There’s a new show on TruTV (all exploitation TV all the time) called Hardcore Pawn, about a large pawn shop in Detroit. Actually, it’s about 2.5 miles from  where I sit.  On a  recent episode,  a guy was looking to trade a 1980s Lincoln for some  lawn equipment. He  ended up getting a large commercial mower, a smaller hand mower and a trimmer. Sounds like a business to me.
      Or get a ratty old pickup truck and conscientiously do a route  on garbage day, or a variety of garbage days. The guy that took away our old stove says he clears about $150-$200 a day when he does it, and the guy who taught him makes about $50K a year.
      “Did he just suggest that black men work as gardeners or junkmen? That’s as bad as consigning them to a life of being porters, ushers, cooks and car washers.”
      Most of the gardeners that I’ve known are their own bosses. Same with junkmen.
      Nothing wrong with being a junkman. My zayde supported my bubbie, my mom and her four sisters, and  two of their cousins buying and selling scrap paper and rags.
      Regarding the poster/billboard. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the Woodward Dream Cruise, or any other big cruise, hot rod, or custom car event, but there’s an interesting demographic. I’m 55 and I see a bunch of older couples with their cool cars. The same women who wore poodles skirts in a ’59 Chevy attend today’s cruises. You see plenty of poodle skirts at car events. Actually, you see them on both period correct and contemporary chassis.

      OMG! He just objectified women by comparing them to a car chassis. For shame for shame.

    • 0 avatar
      jandrews

      I think you’re confused. Whining about this ad would be due to political correctness and/or emasculation.
       
      If I had issues with this ad, I would also have to have issues with this:

      I find the ATV pulling the lawnmower particularly tasty.
       
      I choose to laugh instead, because some things are true. And cupholders used to ride shotgun and wear skirts.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      @PeriSoft
       
      You know, you’re right.
       
      If you sub’ed black, Jewish or Italian for female this ad would have a whole different character.  There’s a lot of posters on this thread who aren’t getting that, or are so mired in their reactionary mindset that they don’t see why there’s a problem.**
       
      That you see it this was and older folk see it as amusing (and get really resentful at your, mine or Ed’s take) has everything to do with age and nothing to do with the absolutist nature of political correctness.  It’s like watching Mad Men with your (grand)parents: they find the scenes of Betty Draper driving with a smoke in one hand, a highball in the other and the kids unbelted to be funny, while you and I find it patently horrifying.  Mind the generation gap.
       
      As for being “emasculated”, well, that’s just the reactionary talk again. You’re similarly emasculated for not slapping your partner or kids around when they talk back, too. Remember that “masculine” is an entirely subjective attribute, and it’s definition wasn’t writ in stone in 1950.

      ** Now, that said, you could see this as a kind of self-parody, the next in the series being “Remember when hair is something you had on your head?” or “Remember when a low beltline wasn’t due to an expanding beer gut?”.

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      That ad really puts me in the mood to beat my wife.

  • avatar

    As someone above pointed out, it was a billboard first, for the Woodward Dream Cruise actually – I think there were a series of them. In that sense, it fits the target audience perfectly. Reminding people that their glory days are behind them or not,  there is still a large market for GM Performance parts like crate motors as well as licensed reproduction parts up to and including complete body assemblies. They can still make a pretty penny off their past.
    As far as sexism is concerned, there are plenty of women in GM marketing and communications who, I’m sure, would have spoken up if they thought the ad was somehow demeaning to women.
    BTW, some cars from that era actually had cup holders. My dad bought a ’61 Pontiac Catalina and on the inside surface of the glove box door there were round indentations stamped into the metal. When the door was open, the surface was horizontal and when you were at a drive-in you could set down cups there.
    I remember on summer nights to cool off, my dad would take us to Howard Johnson’s. As I recall, he’d take a nice drive, either to Woodward & 13 or on Grand River around 8 Mile. From our house in northwest Detroit each was about 10 miles away by the routes he took, so it was  a nice trip. Some of the HoJos had a takeout door in back. My dad would go pick up the usual orders, my older sister would order pistachio, my brother butter pecan, and I’d order black cherry, my little sister arrived about the same time as the Pontiac so she didn’t get a cone for a while. My mom would set down my sister’s cup of ice cream in one of the “cup holders”.

  • avatar
    DearS

    I like it too. Its language seems a little black and white, but I don’t think it is just offensive. Perspective matters. For some it may enable inappropriate behavior, for me its fine. It actually reminds me to be more friendly, humble and intimate, and build relationships with women.

  • avatar
    FJ20ET

    This isn’t the worst thing GM has done. I’ve seen attack ads from the 1980′s directed at “Foreign”(AKA Japan) which might have well have been “you better not give any money to the damn zipperheads. also they don’t even believe in jesus.” make the sexist tone of these ads seem not all that bad. Perisoft, Ed, please do not give ammunition to the FREEDOM PATRIOTS(p.s. bomb syria), let’s avoid overtly politicizing this stupid, outdated ad from a stupid, outdated car company.

  • avatar
    pb35

    There were a series of these and I thought they were great. A Detroit friend sent them along to me in an email back in June.

  • avatar
    Demetri

    This only perpetuates the feeling that Chevrolet and American brands in general are antiquated and stuck in the past.  I find the ad to be absurd.  Pandering to people who yearn for the days of gender roles isn’t the way to build a positive brand perception.

  • avatar
    another_pleb

    How could anyone possibly see this poster as sexist? It doesn’t mention anywhere the gender of the person wearing the poodle skirt.

  • avatar
    John R

    As far as my sensibilities are concerned it’s a big meh, but I’m not a woman so take that for what you will. I’m not surprised either, which probably informs my indifference. Which could be a bad thing.
     
    See, I expect this sort of Mad Men copy from GM or even Chrysis. I really wouldn’t expect this sort of copy from Honda, Toyota, Nissan as they and the other Euro/JDM makes have a more ostensible socially progressive ethos at best or a non-combatant stance on the sexism issue at worst. They do not have that sort of entitled-Post-WWII-white-male mentality that GM’s marketing still seems to have.
     
     
    This is the rub, however; I would also say the same for Ford as I do for Toyota et al. Despite having certainly lived in the zeitgeist back then I would be somewhat taken aback if Ford approved this sort of copy today.

    • 0 avatar

      See, I expect this sort of Mad Men copy from GM or even Chrysis. I really wouldn’t expect this sort of copy from Honda, Toyota, Nissan as they and the other Euro/JDM makes have a more ostensible socially progressive ethos at best or a non-combatant stance on the sexism issue at worst. They do not have that sort of entitled-Post-WWII-white-male mentality that GM’s marketing still seems to have.
       
      Surely thou jest, sir. Euro and JDM companies being more conscious of sexism or other bigotries? Are you kidding? Ask Booth Babe about the pure eye candy that Chrysler had on their stands at the NAIAS and Chicago shows this year, now that Fiat owns them. For the most part, you won’t find any pure models at the GM display or Ford either. Everyone is trained to be a product specialist. Most of the European exotics and high end marques, Ferrari, Lambo, Rolls-Royce (with the exception of Bentley and Aston Martin who use product specialists) have pure models. Audi has a mix of pure models and product specialists. I’m pretty sure that Booth Babe will back me up when I say that Audi has an eye for attractive women. The Porsche, BMW and Audi product specialists are very pretty and no disrespect intended to them, based on the interactions I’ve had with them, they’re hired far more for their looks than their knowledge about cars. Porsche and BMW product specialists generally know nothing about cars. The job of the women at the European automakers’ auto show displays is generally to hand you press kits, look pretty and refer you to a male, usually mit a Cherman accent. Sorry, it’s the truth.
      Looking at photos from Asian auto shows like in Tokyo and Beijing, it seems that in their home markets Asian manufacturers also use plenty of eye candy models in their displays.
      As Booth Babe demonstrates, plenty of the pretty women that work auto shows are indeed trained product specialists, and plenty of the pure models that I’ve spoken to that work the show are smart – they just won the genetic lottery and are making the most of it. However, it’s clear that European and Japanese automakers are far more likely to use women as objectified sex object to promote their cars than US carmakers.
      A professor of far eastern religions once told me that he’d been all over the world and that compared to every where else Americans were “rank amateurs” when it came to racism and bigotry. The same is probably true about gender issues.

  • avatar
    stationwagon

    this ad is like a bad off-color joke, its not amusing but people like it or defend it because its not politically correct. I would defend a funny ad no matter how racist or sexist, but this ad fails to amuse me. This is one piece of news I won’t talk to my friends about.

  • avatar
    slance66

    It brought a smile to my face.  Something Chevy hasn’t managed since I last rode in a ’69 Corvette.  I think it’s a great ad.   It’s clever, humorous and plays on the nostalgia many Americans feel for that era.  Those it offends would likely be buying a Prius or European car anyway.  It won’t help Volt sales, but it could speak to Camaro buyers, pickup buyers and maybe Impala and Malibu as well.  This would be a perfect accompaniment to a new Impala. The restoration of glory.
    By the way, that “socially progressive ethos” mentioned by John R. is something tens of millions of Americans are fed up with right now.  There is massive resistance to the Europization of the U.S. and this ad plays to it perfectly.  “Baseball, hot-dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet” sells right now.
     

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Get Over This!

    We are still having trouble listening to the natural voices within ourselves.

    Really, now what’s the difference between this or a wife watching her husband mow the lawn TV ad?
    What about an ad showing the husband screwing up in the kitchen and the wife taking over?
    Or the husband’s ineptitude feeding the kids dinner, or breakfast?

    Nothing.

    It is all examples of the twisted society we live in.  Today you can’t make fun of many genders or nationalities without the news shooting across the universe as lead in stories.

    Get over it. Stop making us all mental disasters by demanding we all be EVERYTHING. Viva le difference!!!!  Let biology work.
    Let women be the attractive, luring feminine, family emotional center they are.
    Let men be the physical grass mowing, garage-dwelling-mole family guy his genes are making him be.

    Men adore women…but are the more powerful and protective of the two.
    Women adore men, but 90 percent of the time walk over to the passenger side of the car when traveling even to the store…willingly.

    YES!
    There ARE hordes of exceptions, but so what…in the REAL world, the species has evolved over millions of years and the exceptions do not rule the day.

    We need to stop trying to make men and women into people they do not want to be, or can’t.

    When was the last time YOUR wife brought you home flowers????
     

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    An alternate suggestion for the caption:

    YessirreeBob – Remember when we were 18 and could do everything?  Yep, when we had a 29 inch waist and a head full of dark hair.  Yep, those were sure the days.  When our school won all the football games 80 to 3 and we got to date the cheerleaders.  Yepper, boy, we were on top of the world then. 

    Or another:

    Remember when we were G freaking M?  We were it, baby.  Controlled over half the market.  Everyone worshipped us.  Poor sorry-assed bastards like Studebaker and American Motors – we used to carve them up just for fun.  Like a magnifying glass on an ant.  Remember when we could build a really ugly-assed car and everyone would buy it anyway?  And because we put them out there everywhere, everybody got used to them and thought they were normal.  Sweeeeet.  And remember when we could tell our customers to take that 2 speed Powerglide or that shitty flexible X frame and like it – and they would!  Heh Heh – boy if only we could get away with that nowadays.  Hey, hon – howabout another round for my boys here.

    This, ladies and gentlemen, is the current GM mindset.  So please excuse the company for a momemtary lapse of judgment.  We should appreciate the rare moment of candor.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Good grief. Sometimes a billboard is just a billboard. And people who get incensed by it are just cranks.
    By the way, the reason the “cup holder” sat close to the driver is for safety. Back in the day, when we saw a car with a guy and gal sitting with no degree of separation, we would say “That car must have a safety steering wheel. They both want to sit behind it.”
     

  • avatar
    Nick

    Eh, ‘if it said ‘And your hand was on the inside of her thigh’ maybe.

    Anyway, could’ve picked a better looking Chevy; I always thought the 59s were awful.  My ad had one and it shows up in some very old pictures now and again.

  • avatar
    1996MEdition

    EN…..did your wife make you post this?

  • avatar
    86er

    Resentment of resentment begets resentment.

  • avatar
    nonce

    I had to read the ad several times before I realized what it was saying that could be construed as offensive.

  • avatar
    Loser

    Sorry, I don’t get it. I fail to see how anyone could be even remotely offended by this ad.
    I do love that car though, the 59′s were like an ugly dog you couldn’t help but love (if that makes sense).


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