Saturday, May 25, 2013

No va

Mad Men mystery solved!  By the Visible Measures blog; the top secret, designed by a computer, super car of 1968 that Don Draper and friends have won the right to advertise, is...the Chevy Vega.  And they gave away Jaguar to get it.

Talk about your pyrrhic victory. The Vega--though initially it sold well--is by consensus one of the worst cars ever made in the USA. Having Chevrolet for a client in the early 1970s was also nearly lethal for its real life ad agency;
In September 1970, GM was crippled by a United Auto Workers strike. It led to the company suspending its advertising, according to Ad Age. As a result Campbell Ewald, Chevrolet's agency at the time, had to cut salaries twice and furlough many of its employees. If Mad Men sticks close to the GM's history, as they often do, it may mean tough times ahead for the [Draper, et al.] agency.
GM recovered from that strike, but there was a bigger problem on the horizon, the 1973 Arab oil embargo that made small, fuel efficient cars suddenly desirable, even for Americans.  But GM was stuck with its turkey--and Ford with its, the Pinto--which gave the perfect opportunity for the Japanese to market their higher quality Datsuns, Hondas and Toyotas.

That even though they faced the positive network effects of the Big Three, for whose cars parts and service were readily available. Turns out that America wasn't path dependent on GM, Ford and Chrysler at all.

Btw, 'vega' in Spanish means valley, or low point.  That calls to mind GM's other naming debacle, the Nova, which was wildly successful north of the Rio Grande, but not much of a seller in Mexico and South America. Probably because 'no va' means, 'it doesn't go' in Spanish.

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