For Jerry Speedam as his first assignment as head of all advertising at General Motors he had to promote the new 1952 Buick Rotunda. The car’s main appeal was to be that four not three people could comfortably sit in the rear seat.
Jerry went to the advertising agency at which he had previously been employed and where he had handled production for ads pertaining to the automobile industry. His old boss, Mike Smartee, was still there. Jerry explained what he wanted for the initial ad for the new Buick Rotunda.
“It’s up to you, Mike,” Jerry said, “to come up with an ad that is so different that new customers will flock to buy the Rotunda. You have two weeks to shoot the ad and present it to me.”
Mike immediately called his creative staff together. The staff members quickly reviewed the information of the Buick Rotunda that indicated the dimensions of the interior and the wheel base and everything pertaining to what would be in the Rotunda handbook given to customers. Then they reviewed that the focus of the ad was to be that four people could comfortably sit in the back seat.
All five members of the creative staff flew out to Salt Lake City where their office had already hired 28 extras to be in the television ad. Now with this group and plenty of food, cameras, equipment, and what have you they drove up to Sweet Mountain.
Jerry Speedam had sent a beautiful royal blue Rotunda to Salt Lake City. It had been driven up to Sweet Mountain and placed on the top of the mountain so that the entire right side of the auto was visible to the TV audience.
Mike had given everyone instructions, and on cue with all personnel and extras out of camera range, the first extra walked up to the right rear door, opened it, entered and sat down. Then the second extra did the same thing.
Now the voiceover stated: “Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the new Buick Rotunda can hold four people in the back seat comfortably.
“There goes number three,” the voiceover continued as the third extra opened the door and entered the rear. “Now something no other luxury auto can claim except the Buick Rotunda, there goes the fourth person into the rear seat.” The camera showed the fourth extra opening the door and entering the rear seat.
Now the camera came in for a close up and showed the four people sitting in the back seat. The camera shot made it appear that all four people were sitting comfortably. The cameraman did this by just showing their smiling faces and their upper bodies.
What was not shown was the lower half of their bodies. The local office of the ad agency had hired four contortionists who were able to place their feet and lower body parts in such a way as to make it appear that they were sitting comfortably.
Now for the fun part of the ad: The voiceover grew louder with the announcement: “The back seat of the Rotunda is big enough that we can put 24 more people in the back seat.”
And following that announcement one by one the other 24 extras opened the right rear door of the Buick Rotunda, got in, and then closed the door. While this was going on the voiceover counted the people as they entered the rear door: “… 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, and 28. Now 28 people have entered the rear of the new luxury Buick Rotunda.
“Be sure to go tomorrow to your nearest Buick dealer and put your order in for the new Buick Rotunda that will be delivered to your dealer within two weeks.”
The announcer continued: “No other auto can offer you the rear space that the new Buick Rotunda can.”
What were the results of this ad campaign? The Buick Rotunda sold over 70,000 cars the first year when General Motors’ estimate for possible sales was a mere 32,000. The ad won the year’s prize as the best auto ad, and the agency employees who had each worked on the ad won individual awards for the ad.
And although 28 extras did enter the rear seat of the Buick Rotunda, the viewer never did see the left rear door of the Buick Rotunda that was not visible in the ad. Because as soon as the fifth extra entered the right rear door, the first extra bent down and exited the left rear door by sliding down the incline on the other side of the small mountain.
And from then on, every time another extra entered into the right rear door, unseen by the camera an extra already seated would bend over, exit the left rear door, and slide down Sweet Mountain.
© 2017 Albert Zimbler
Albert Zimbler is a 92-year-old author of six humor short story books on Amazon of which MORE DATING AND MATING SECRETS OF SENIORS AND OTHER HUMOR SHORT STORIES is the latest. He also teaches senior improv. Click here to see his Amazon author profile.