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Boy Meets Car

October 22, 2012

Here are two car commercials shot decades apart that follow the exact same premise: a boy, too young to drive, rides his bike to a car dealer to check out the latest model, hoping that he can one day sit behind the wheel and drive it off the lot.  It’s a classic car industry tactic, playing to consumer’s ideas of casting off childish things.  No surprise there.

But what struck me about the first ad, a vintage Chevy OK spot, is that the boy appears to be fresh from his paper route, as if he’s saving up money to one day by a “practical” car, in the announcer’s words.  “He’ll be back,” only when he can afford to pay for the car he wants.  Compare that to the second ad, in which a young boy daydreams and doodles his way through class, fantasizing about the Porsche 911 that drives by his school.  There’s no sense that the kid needs to do anything to afford this luxury sports car such as study or work.  Just thinking about it hard enough is enough to make the dream come true.

Its the can-do spirit of the Eisenhower era versus the something-for-nothing mentality of The Secret and post-9/11 America.

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