Rearview: Try Justifying This…

Nice car, patronising car ad.

Car-adphotos 001

For those of us who grew up in the 1970’s, it doesn’t necessarily always feel that long ago. Revisiting this print ad, I realise it was. Advertisements like this were not all that unusual then, especially when it came to advertising more ‘masculine’ cars. Like so many things we can now look back in astonishment over, this form of casual and gleeful sexism not only portrays women as emasculating killjoys, but also as quite incapable of appreciating a nice car – let alone being capable of driving one.

Perhaps the unspoken undercurrent beneath the copy is the notion that all men secretly want to have an affair. Because without knowing quite how, our hero has become saddled with a nagging hausfrau and two drugged-looking children. Actually, you look a bit gormless yourself there mate, but on the upside, you’ve fooled the poor dear into thinking you’ve bought a family car. Well done.

Now of course the other elephant in the backseat is the fact that while the 128 Tre Porte Berlinetta is a perfectly nice little warmed-over coupé, it falls somewhere short of Sexy. Yes, it was nice of Fiat to invest in something bespoke rather than just tart-up a 128 Berlina – (although they offered that too) – this combined with the sweet little X1/9 really was above and beyond the call. Especially given the parlous state Fiat was in by 1975. Yet reading this ad leads me respect it and Fiat a little less.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Founding Editor. Content Provider.

3 thoughts on “Rearview: Try Justifying This…”

  1. Personally I think you’re being harsh.
    1. Just because they sound a little sexist today it doesn’t mean that many women and men still don’t know what sporty is or isn’t. It’s communicating with a man who wants to have a sporty car but is now saddled with a wife and family whom he actually does love but he’d like a taste of his youth. That still applies today with a host of adverts for motor cars. Quite often now I find the advert sexist in the opposite way but I don’t take offence…. it’s just marketing, pigeon holing to find the products niche.
    2. It doesn’t give me any feeling that the bloke wants an affair… that’s new age programming regarding old age advertising from people who want you to think you have to alter your mind.
    3. I reckon I could find other adverts that focused on a female purchase, though they will be fewer and further between because women at the time made fewer solo independent purchases.
    Men on the other hand often made their purchase as a consequence of motivation from the other half (if indeed they had any purse string authorisation).
    The advert actually tells me that many men DID make decisions based around their wives choices probably because they do love their wife and valued their opinion. However they would like to stay youthful at the same time as conforming.

  2. It´s hard to know what level of self-awareness is in play here. Taken literally, the final lines are plain rude. But perhaps the ad was intended to be read ironically. Either way, such copy would not go over today.

  3. Interesting you should read it that way. My take is that the wife actually makes the decisions and the man has to be devious and tell her it’s a family saloon to get the decision past her beady eye. Thus there is the distinct possibility that many men were (and definitely are now) in a position where they do as they are told. They merely had the ability to “go around the problem”.
    I’d suggest that it has become not PC to indicate to men how they can go around the problem and of course the distinction between what is sporty and what isn’t sporty has been blurred. In addition many women now want the sporty model because the advertising now pushes that to females as well as males ….. because women make as much money for the machine as men do.

    It’s merely a transition period from genuine male domination – through the 70’s – to the current period of outright equanimity in the purchasing decisions. The 70’s merely were the changeover period whereby men lost the purse string domination.

    We now have men making decisions (or women) to buy cars based on the ability to carry a pushchair or a particular kind of car seat. I know one guy who was a serious 70’s contender for “bloke of the year” who now drives a beige Zafira at 70+… I suspect he’s been beaten into submission by 21st century political correctness. LOL

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