Ford conducted a lot of marketing research for its Edsel brand and was assured by many well-educated MBA types that its new lineup would be hugely successful. The research scientists said the unique styling and features Edsel offered would appeal to a broad cross-section of the American populace. After a television musical debut in the fall of 1957, Edsels were shipped to dealers where they remained under wraps until it was time for the ‘58 model year.
Crazy styling aside, Edsel’s arrival caused some immediate brand confusion in relation to Mercury, and in more limited circumstances, Ford. Much of said confusion occurred in the company’s debut year when Edsel spread the “lots of new models” sauce a little too thin. We start at the brand’s second most basic offering: Pacer.
Ford successfully orchestrated a splashy live television musical debut for its new brand Edsel in the fall of 1957. The program was a culmination of a multi-year project to establish a new division of Ford that would compete more directly with the likes of Oldsmobile, Buick, and DeSoto. Edsels promised to be notably different from the Mercury with which it shared most everything except styling.
Edsel was to be much more value-conscious than the new-for-’58 unibody Lincolns, which sought to move the brand upmarket after the almost instantaneous discontinuation of the Continental Division. After Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby ushered in the Edsel name it was time to show off the all-new models in showrooms, and introduce a supposedly excited American consumer to the lineup.
Edsel received an honorary mention a couple of weeks ago, in our current Rare Rides Icons series on the Lincoln Mark cars. Then it was mentioned again the other day in Abandoned History’s coverage of the Cruise-O-Matic transmissions. It’s a sign. We need to talk about Edsel.
Ford CEO Jim Farley has said he sees little reason for the automaker to bother using traditional advertising campaigns for electric vehicles. Considering how often I see the Ford logo grace whatever screen I happen to be peering into, this would seem to go against everything I’ve been conditioned to accept. However the company believes its EVs practically sell themselves already, with the executive noting that the Mach-E has been sold out for quite some time.
“I’m not convinced we need public advertising for [electric vehicles] if we do our job,” Farley said during Wednesday’s Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference.
Today’s Rare Ride was randomly mentioned among some other Lexus discussion on Twitter, and your author knew it immediately needed coverage here. This very special RX was conceived at a time when McCartney and Lexus were particularly chummy and financially interested in one another. Lexus worked up a bespoke special edition car as an homage to the legendary star. And though the resulting homage was even more cringe-inducing than its title might suggest, it was at least created for a good cause. You might say this particular Lexus RoX.
Pop quiz, hotshot: What job combines a Challenger Hellcat, wrestling champ Bill Goldberg, and a $150,000 paycheck? If you answered with something along the lines of Vince McMahon’s assistant or slightly-above-board import/export professional, we totally understand.
In reality, that’s the job description for Chief Donut Maker at Dodge. Yep – you read that correctly.
Sort of like the Cimarron we covered in our last edition of Abandoned History a couple of months ago, today’s vehicle is pretending to be more than it is. It’s the luxury X-Class truck Mercedes-Benz sold in markets outside the USA. Can you tell what it actually is?
Nissan Motor Co. has confirmed plans to invest 2 trillion yen ($17.65 billion USD) over the next five years to accelerate its electric vehicle development program. Like most major manufacturers, the automaker wants to launch a bevy of electrified products over the next decade and derive a relevant portion of its income from EVs.
As explained by CEO Makoto Uchida on Monday as part of the “Nissan Ambition 2030,” the plan is to launch 23 new vehicles with some amount of electrification while it attempts to implement solid-state batteries into three concept vehicles that supposedly foreshadow future lineups. These include the battery-electric “Surf-Out” lifestyle pickup, “Max-Out” sports convertible, “Chill-Out” regular car, and “Hang-Out” adventure crossover. Though all three appear to be little more than drafts of vehicles Nissan would eventually like to build, boasting technologies that we’re not sure are feasible. For example, the Hang-Out is featured with a polygonal purple awning that oozes impossibly out of the vehicle’s roof. It lacks realism, which ended up being a central theme of the Nissan Ambition 2030 presentation that was broadcast on Monday.
BMW is dusting off one of its older logos for select vehicles and a bevy of vintage colors to celebrate the M Division’s 50th anniversary. Those with a functional memory will recall that the brand streamlined its corporate iconography in 2020, making its already basic logo flatter and less colorful than ever before. It was a monumental achievement focused on helping the image come across better electronic screens that have been in existence since 1927, began supplanting printed office memos in the 1980s, and have evolved to support the kind of graphical clarity that now rivals your own eyes. The automaker also claimed the bare-bones logo stood for “openness and clarity” and would be used primarily for marketing and official communications — rather than occupying valuable hood real estate.
The new celebratory emblem — used during the 1970s and 80s on the occasional BMW Motorsport product — will be permitted to adorn the sheet metal, however. You simply have to purchase an M vehicle, ask for it to be adorned with the retro iconography, and then pay some extra money.
Mazda has announced that the 2023 CX-50 will debut on November 15th, foreshadowing its production launch in January of 2022 at the Alabama plant it shares with Toyota. That means odds are good that the model will share more than a few components with the Toyota Corolla Cross. But Mazda has been adamant that CX-50 is a unique vehicle riding on its very own platform.
Unique is a relative term, however, when the upcoming model represents another “lifestyle vehicle” designed to convince consumers that a jack-of-all-trades crossover is ready and willing to drag them up the side of a mountain. Officially, Mazda is claiming this one caters to adults with particularly active lifestyles and has surrounded it with nature-themed marketing materials. That presumably has something to do with the CX-50 boasting “enhanced all-wheel-drive capabilities.”
There’s a new automotive trend afoot, one where industry giants alter their iconic corporate logos so they’ll play better in a digital environment. Shadows and color gradients designed to give an image depth don’t always pop on a cheap screen the way they might on the glossy piece of paper and have encouraged manufacturers to transmission to flat, monochromatic icons that look bad everywhere.
But consistency isn’t the only reason to change logos. It’s also an opportunity to signal to customers that you’re evolving as a brand, which is why so many companies have associated their new iconography with the pivot toward electric vehicles. General Motors, recently ditched the logo it’s been using (more or less) unchanged since 1964 for a Bizarro World alternative that swaps the color pallet and makes the letters lowercase. Now it’s modernizing the emblem to be used for Cadillac’s electrified products until they gradually supplant the entire lineup.
The WiLL branding project in early 2000s Japan was intended to excite and interest younger consumers with stylish products, all of which were marketed as WiLL. At the pinnacle of unique WiLL offerings were three different small Toyotas: The first two were the unpopular and unsuccessful retro-French themed Vi, and the modern-looking, popular, and unsuccessful VS.
Around the middle of VS production, Toyota just knew there had to be a part of the market they hadn’t reached yet and reintroduced the idea of the Vi with a polar opposite stylistic direction. This is the Cypha.
Several Japanese companies embarked on the WiLL sub-brand exercise at the dawn of the new millennium. Miscellaneous WiLL-branded products were introduced alongside a funky new car offering from Toyota, the WiLL Vi.
The baguette-themed retro sedan was an immediate failure amongst the youthful consumers WiLL was supposed to attract, so Toyota had a very quick rethink. Meet VS.
The WiLL project was a short-lived collaborative marketing effort by several Japanese brands, intended to capture the interest and money of youthful buyers. Using emotional engineering, seven companies launched new products in the early 2000s wearing WiLL sub-branding. Included in the myriad of offerings were three different subcompact Toyotas.
And here’s the first one, the WiLL Vi.
Today’s Abandoned History story is one of targeted marketing. In the early 2000s, an amalgam of Japanese corporations combined efforts to reach out to younger consumers via unified branding. Cars, food, appliances – all across Japan new, youth-focused products all wore the same sub-brand: WiLL.
Collectively WiLL asked, “How do you do, fellow kids?”