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The Automotive Chronicles

Monthly newsletter published by McLellan's Automotive History. Dedicated to literature collectors, restorers, museums, publishers, manufacturers and investors who collect and preserve automotive literature
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February 2004 Issue
 
ARTICLE
 
Personal Insights on Pontiac Art
By Arthur Einstein Jr

The 'Pontiacs As Art' article I read on The Automotive Chronicles in December rang a bell for me...

I was working as a copywriter at J Walter Thompson on the Ford business at the time the wide-track Pontiacs advertising was introduced. The cars and art came along for the '59 model year but I believe the 'wide track' advertising campaign started for the 1960 models. The track, by the way, was 60" which isn't that dramatic now.

PONTIAC 1969

As I recall, two artists were used because one was very good with cars, and the other was very good depicting people. Apparently finding someone who did both to perfection wasn't that easy. I know that even back then good car artists weren't that easy to come by. Illustration of the kind that was used in car advertising is a near dead art.

Art work was used in most car advertising back then to dramatize styling as Rob noted. But Pontiac work was dazzling by comparison with what other manufacturers were doing. It was also effective. I remember calling a Pontiac dealer in the course of my work to find out exactly how wide that wide-track was and have him gripe about the number of people who'd been calling with that question.

Art work was also preferred because next years cars were usually introduced in September and 4-color ad closings for September magazines was in mid-June. It took time to make color separations etc. so in order to get ads to the books in June you'd have had to start photography several months earlier. At that point the cars weren't yet coming off the line and getting them for photography was difficult if not impossible. Art work didn't present the same constraints.

PONTIAC 1961 - 1962
Click for larger view

The switch to photography was accelerated by Doyle Dane Bernbach's Volkswagen advertising. Their use of photography was innovative. They took their photos on a no-seam background out of doors instead of in a studio. The resulting pictures reflected the natural surroundings. To the viewer the car popped off the page. It looked very real - though the viewer probably didn't know why. Much more real than a studio shot.

 
For additional Pontiac art please see Pontiacs as Art article.
 
 
 
The Automotive Chronicles, February 2004
 
 
 
 
 
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