By on October 22, 2016

Eleanor Mondale

It’s morning in America. Just before noon Eastern Time, actually.

If decades of Gallup polling is correct, and we’re inclined to believe it is, car salespeople and members of Congress have among the lowest reputations of any profession in the U.S. Surprised? Not likely. It’s probably why you never see politicians in car commercials, even if they’ll gladly lend their name to products like Pepsi and Viagra. We’re looking at you, Bob Dole.

That doesn’t mean the two worlds never mix.

While she never entered politics, Eleanor Mondale, daughter of Carter era vice-president Walter Mondale, had no problem shilling for Dodge and its 1987 Shadow. Hell, she wouldn’t have had a car to sell it wasn’t for the Carter administration’s loan guarantee with Chrysler Corporation, brokered by Lee Iacocca.

Mondale, who allegedly had an affair with former president Bill Clinton, became a successful radio and television personality. We can’t confirm if she ever owned a 1987 Dodge Shadow, but this writer once owned a Sundance and can attest to its front seat comfort, solid suspension and troubling fuel flow issues.

Achieving the highest level of office available to those born outside the U.S., former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger donated his body to General Motors for this 1971 spot.

It’s a non-speaking role, and you’ll have to squint to pick him out of the mountains of flesh, but that’s Arnie among the group of musclebound bodybuilders. They’re all super excited about the ’71 Chevrolet Chevelle, and they have a right to be. Who doesn’t like a Chevelle?

However, the “Heavy Chevy” option package wasn’t so hot. Described by some as pure window dressing, the package’s hood tie-downs and other go-fast indicators wrote a check that base V8 models couldn’t cash. Consider that race terminated.

Former Brady Bunch mom Florence Henderson shilled pretty heavily for Oldsmobile in the late 1950s and early 60s. She really seemed to love that Dynamic 88.

While the actress and singer never ran for office, she did have one run-in with the political sphere that left her in need of a trip to the clinic. Consider this a warning to everyone. That politician in the window might not be as clean as he appears.

Now, if you’re the type who prefers to maintain an older vehicle in the hopes of getting four more years out of the old wreck, it’s going to get dirty. Those hands won’t be so soft and supple after you’ve finished draining that crankcase.

However, if you use a Borax-based waterless hand cleaner, like Mr. Reagan here, you won’t even need to go into the house and soil the dishtowels. Freedom, it is said, is never more than one generation away from extinction, but freedom from soap and water can be eternal.

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42 Comments on “Would You Buy a Car from This Politician?...”

  • avatar

    Recently refurbed my FIL’s WWII canvas courier bag (motorcycle MP), ignored in dank basement corners for 70 years and replete with muster-out tag from Camp Top Hat.

    Used a yupster kind of product called Retro Clean that worked astonishingly well and I thought a new class of cleaning product had recently been invented.

    Nah… sodium perborate, same as “20-Mule Team Borax”.

    Respect antiquitay.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    In the car world, have *any* celebrity endorsements ever made a difference?

    I find 99% of car ads to be vapid wastes of my time and the mfrs money. Also, if all it took was a hot girl to sell cars, Mercury would have been the best-selling brand for years, and would still be around today.

    I’d like to see a chart of return on advertising dollars per car mfr. There would be some surprises in there. In today’s cynical market, I’d suggest the use of any politician in a car ad would automatically eliminate half of your potential customers.

    • 0 avatar

      SCE to AUX – we may not think advertising has an effect but it does. Part of the rationale for advertising is to make a product familiar. We seek the familiar. It is a primitive survival mechanism that is exploited psychologically by advertising.

      “Hot girls” catches a man’s attention due to some of those same primitive survival mechanisms. Mythbusters did an experiment on bust size. They found that the bigger the bust the more tips the girl got and the more she got checked out. That was equally true for both men and women.

      I do agree that using a politician would be a poor idea since they are poorly trusted.

      • 0 avatar

        Poorly trusted and almost always divisive. If you voted against said politician, and he/she were elected (or had been before) and did things you didn’t approve of, you’d certainly think twice about buying a car that his/her name and/or likeness is attached to. Similarly, I wouldn’t buy a car Albert Gore Jr. tried to sell me, but then I’m not a Prius fan anyway.

        But, Lou, as usual, you’re spot on.

        The other day, my neighbor talked about this new car-based truck she kept seeing advertised. At first, she scoffed at the idea of a pickup based on a FWD unibody platform (paraphrasing with our terms lol), then she said it “wouldn’t be bad to check one out”. I had showed her a picture of a Daihatsu HiJet deck van which triggered her memory of what was obviously Honda Ridgeline advertising.

        Yes, advertising works, especially when the product is radical or significantly different enough to grab your attention. It puts it in your head, you start to think about it, before you know it, you’re checking it out online. There are plenty of instances where advertising had a direct correlation on web traffic and consumer interest.

        One example: Chrysler’s two-minute SuperBowl Eminem Chrysler 200 “Imported from Detroit” ad generated huge web traffic, the YouTube of the commercial gained millions of views, and “Chrysler 200” was the second most-searched word/phrase on Google the day after the commercial aired.

        Obviously, that wasn’t enough to propel a mediocre product in a class of many good choices with fewer and fewer buyers (according to our wonderful Mr. Tim Cain), but had the product been as stellar as the ad and the hype it generated, Chrysler could be adding capacity now instead of shutting down production.

        BTW advertising with hot women never worked on me, lol. Seriously though, I’m also not any more attracted to a Heavy Chevy than I was before seeing the above, either. I guess sex-based advertising has little or no effect on me.

    • 0 avatar

      Brooke Shields sold me the rarest of all minivans. Too bad that Krueger guy wasn’t watching, or he could have cashed in too, because the manufacturer is considering buying them all back I heard.

      • 0 avatar

        Was it a Nissan Vanette? They were all supposed to be recalled and destroyed due to a fire hazard caused by Nissan putting a larger engine in than the original JDM design called for, to satisfy US/Canadian market expectations of power. It was in fact too large, and there for overheated in the confined space, causing fires. I found a Vannete on craigslist way up north of Seattle a few years ago. Not too far from the Canadian border.

        In our market, we have often recieved higher output engines, some times those not available in the JDM. Like this one and the first Infiniti M45/JDM Nissan Gloria. We got the V-8 and from what I can find, a far more premium interior. They didn’t have a V-8, even as an option, and their interior more closely resembles that of a Maxima of the era. Big Nissan, but not too nice. I love the front end of the Gloria. It, at least in some years, doesn’t look quite as goofy as our M45 (which I don’t really hate).

  • avatar

    Nurses tend to be in the top 3 if not #1 year after year. Pharmacists, paramedics, and firefighters also tend to rank at the top of the list when it comes to ethics and trust. Doctors tend to rate a bit lower from the top. Police tend to rank more mid pack.
    Virtually anything tied to politics sits at rock bottom. I’m not surprised by the fact that lobbyists are the worst. Sums up why we are seeing the current political situation.

  • avatar
    Glenn Mercer

    I too would like to see the ROI on advertising. I suspect that chart doesn’t exist. I think the two “black holes” of OEM spending are car styling and car advertising. That is, for neither has anyone ever succeeded in developing a reliable ROI. (It is amazing, having talked to numerous stylists over the years, how none of them have ever had an idea of, or even an interest in, defining let alone quantifying how one design might trigger more customer demand than another.) As far as advertising goes, the budgets seem to be set by rules of thumb along the lines of “last year plus 10%.” For some small cars the ad spend exceeds the cost of the engine. To be fair to the OEMs, one reason they throw so much money at ads is that they never know when a given viewer might be in the market for a car, given we only purchase one every X years, and so they may show you 1,000 ads in hopes that 1 of them hits you as you are ready to buy. I am not saying that makes sense, only that I have heard this as a reason for such massive ad spend. The OEMs alone (not counting the dealers) spend over $10 billion on ads in the USA annually… can you imagine if this were diverted to engineering? (Yes, that is about $600 per car!)

    • 0 avatar

      @Glenn Mercer – I used to subscribe to a magazine called Cycle Canada. One of the contributors was a designer/stylist who had worked for Yamaha and for some very large design studio’s in Europe. He had some very good articles explaining the design process and why we see the current shapes and styles. He also explained why we tend to see similar styling cues across product classes.
      It can be difficult to discern what is ideal as that changes from generation to generation. We have seen and heard of the much maligned “focus group”. That is where various shapes and styles are tested.
      In the post to “SCE to AUX” I mentioned “familiarity”. That is why we tend to see gradual changes to a product line over time. The Mustang is a prime example of evolutionary changes that maintain a sense of familiarity. Companies can get trapped by a design that is too iconic. That design becomes the expectation and deviation becomes incredibly difficult. In the motorcycle world Harley Davidson has made a fortune with the cruiser style but it has trapped them. They just can’t seem to expand.

  • avatar

    Being fairly old now, as a kid, I always remembered the TV shows of the 60s & even into the early 70s being sponsored by one automaker or another. I always looked on with interest to see what shiny new Dodge convertible Mr. Drysdale or his secretary Jane were going pull up into the driveway on the Beverly Hillbillies. Mr. Drysdale always got the top-of-the-line like a Monaco or something and Jane usually pulled up in a Dart. But they were always convertibles because usually the actors were saying some of their lines.
    Darrin and Samantha Stevens on Bewitched always drove shiny new Chevrolets – usually convertibles – although I saw Darrin pull up in a Corvette once.
    When I was a kid I didn’t realize what product placement was. Ignorance was bliss.

    • 0 avatar

      Glory days! Perry Mason’s & Paul Drake’s T-Birds, Green Acre’s JKF Lincolns.. etc.

      My faves were always the gleaming new Chrysler products (also Mission Impossible IIRC). Boat-o-Rama!

      PS: Those old prime-time shows were exquisitely photographed and are well worth finding reruns for old car lovers.

      • 0 avatar

        Once I learned of product placement it used to be amusing to spot products. Cars tend to be much more obvious.

        Remember Robert Urich? In Vegas he had a 57 T-bird. Spencer for Hire went from a 66 Mustang to a 1986 Mustang. I think he ended up in a Probe.

        This is a cool list:

        • 0 avatar

          Yes, great list. From the ages of 4 to 17 I watched more TV than in the 45 years since. No feeling for post-’72 shows/cars but many memory triggers in the earlier stuff.

      • 0 avatar

        One of the best TV series for car-spotting was Naked City. It was a police drama shot on location in NYC in the late 50’s and early 60’s. A lot of shots of everyday street scenes in NYC.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Darren was one of the first to drive a Camaro. GM actually tied its launch to Bewitched.

      Chevrolet unveiled their new cars every year on the first Bonanza episode of the season.

      Cannon and his Mark III, Rock Hudson in MacMillan and his Town Car. Jim Rockford and his Firebird. Starsky and Hutch and their Torino.

      The reason companies advertise is because it works. Advertising, the movies and television have changed our soical mores over the decades.

      And the use of diamond engagement rings and cigarettes for women was the result of those industries paying to have movies use/publicize their use.

      The Arnold commercial was great. Notice that he was far from the largest but the most proportional or symmetrical.

    • 0 avatar

      “Mr. Drysdale always got the top-of-the-line like a Monaco or something…”

      No Dodges for Drysdale. He was usually in an Imperial.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Elizabeth Montgomery could have sold me anything, despite my comments above ^^.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      I grew up with the same shows and would make note of the vehicles in them. My Favorite Martian was sponsored by Chrysler. Martin would always have a upscale Dodge or Plymouth.

      The Brady Bunch mostly drove Chrysler products. Mrs. and I guess Alice borrowed the 68-9 Plymouth Satellite Sport wagon. The father drove a fairly rare 70-71 Barracuda convertible in blue. There is a episode where Greg borrows the Barracuda to go on a date to a drive in movie but he is forced to bring the youngest brother Bobby along. Bobby behaves like a obnoxious lad and tears a hole in the convertible roof. Those Brady parents were quite soft on those kids.

  • avatar

    You can thank the Borax guy for pushing the National Park Service system – he even paid to run it out of his own pocket in its early years as its first head.

    Every National Park has something named after him – like the best view of the Grand Canyon and also the National Park Service Headquarters.

    “Upon Mather’s death, the Park Service erected bronze plaques in every park with the words: “There will never come an end to the good that he has done.”

    Thanks to him and Borax.

    • 0 avatar

      Interesting; I didn’t know about Mather’s connection to Borax.

      Just a few weeks ago, I stayed at Mather Lodge, located on Petitjean Mountain, which is actually a state park built with WPA funds.

  • avatar

    Before there was Eleanor Mondale, there was Susan Ford. She appeared in print ads and a TV commercial for Subaru (“This car fits MY energy bill!”)

  • avatar

    Not quite in line with auto advertising..

    I recall seeing old footage of Congressman R M Nixon gasing up & wiping shields at his brother’s gas bar.

    I believe the implications were of hard-working & honest background…

  • avatar

    The biggest POS I personally owned was an MY87 Shadow. In hindsight I consider it a bigger disappointment than vehicles I owned without motors or transmissions (one each) despite the fact it ran, sort of.

  • avatar

    The problem has been and remains forever more that politics are always local. You don’t hate Congress, you hate the people you didn’t help elect into congress (or your own if you’re on the losing side of that equation). Fenno’s “Home Style” really points out how representatives are beloved in their districts and are unknown faces beyond it.

    I really dislike our current congress for ideological reasons but I don’t think being a politician is a bad thing. Then again, you can look at Gallup’s list and see how mythology and proximity create amazing ‘common sense’ positions that have no logic behind them. The Top-3 positions are held by people who generally on treat you when you’re ill and the top two are more widely spread through society. Most people have a teacher, a police officer, or a nurse in their extended family so it’s not hard to latch on to those positions.

    The further down the list the more likely it is that person tries to sell you something or have the narrative machine working triple-time against them. Not that some of it isn’t deserved mind you but it’s still clear to see how the narrative controls have been put in place.

    • 0 avatar

      @Xeranar – one can argue that you have no choice but to trust the top 3 but shouldn’t that apply to the people you elect to run your municipality, state/province or country?

      Part of the reason why we trust health care providers is that if they make a mistake that causes harm or had a high risk of causing harm, it is disclosed to the patient/client. There is accountability for their actions.
      Nurses and Doctors are usually there when you are born and when you die. It doesn’t get any more intimate than that.

      Politicians on the other hand go out of their way to obfuscate or outright deny. We’ve seen too many incidences were there is no accountability. Just watching those three debates or parts of them pushes politicians towards the bottom of the list.

      • 0 avatar

        Accountability is always an issue but in the same instance that a doctor who leaves a sponge may get reprimanded it’s likely they’ll still be allowed to operate afterwards. They’ll just pay more for insurance. If a politician fails (lets ignore objective corruption) they’ll be thrown from office. It’s a fickle position that people inherently distrust because if you live in a place where it’s even marginally competitive, you already have a built-in minority that really hates your guts.

        I’m not saying that we don’t need more accountability, by all accounts we could use far more. But can you really say CONGRESS is the place to start? People who put Paul Ryan in office love Paul Ryan. People who put Elizabeth Warren in office love Elizabeth Warren. They’re not necessarily doing anything inherently wrong, they’re just a sort of mass of faces you can blame.

        Hating Ryan’s policies are completely different from hating Congress as an actor. I mean, for many Ryan fans he’s doing exactly what they want him to do.

        @28 – :O Did I just receive a mild compliment? I’m going to take it as non-satirical. :P

        • 0 avatar

          Indeed sir, you did. Keep up the fine work.

        • 0 avatar

          If a sponge is left inside a patient it is just as much the fault of the hospital and its staff. (Just being nitpicky- Operating rooms’s are anal retentive to the extreme)

          If political office had the same oversight and checks and balances as an OR, I do think we’d have more trust in politicians ;)

          You do have a valid point.

    • 0 avatar

      *strokes imaginary beard*


  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I have less respect and trust for politicians than I do for car sales spokespersons. I would not buy any vehicle from a politician.

    As for the vehicle advertising and placement in shows like the Dinah Shore Show, Route 66, Burns and Allen, Hawaii Five O, Bonanza, Bewitched, Beverly Hillbillies, Leave It To Beaver, My Three Sons, Rockford, the Andy Griffith Show, the Brady Bunch, Mannix, and a host of other shows that might have worked in the past but it is much harder to persuade the public today with the same type of advertising. Most of us are bombarded with advertising and have become more skeptical and distrustful of all messages we hear and see. It is very hard to measure the effects of advertising on the decision making of a consumer.

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