On the Tube: Celebrities Endorsing Cars
Some were unforgettable. Others just made you go, huh? Here’s a look back at some famous celebrity car commercials preserved on YouTube.
Many surveys suggest only about 1 percent of car buyers purchase a vehicle because of a celebrity endorsement. But that doesn’t stop marketers from trying. When the personality and the message mix, you get the memorable advertising genius that was Lee Iacocca selling Chrysler and Ricardo Montalban talking about the “soft Corinthian leather” inside the 1975 Cordoba. When they get it wrong, you’re left with the sort of commercials that make a person wish they could have those 30 seconds of their life back. Anybody remember those primetime slots with Tiger Woods behind the wheel of a Buick? As if.
Penn-oo-mele Kiki Bobo
Actor David Leisure played the fictional spokesman Joe Isuzu in a series of television advertisements for Isuzu cars and trucks from 1986 to 1990 — the heyday sales years of the Japanese automaker in America. While the company is still known throughout the world for their small trucks, Isuzu abandoned the United States consumer market in 2009 due to lack of sales.
See the USA in Your Chevrolet
The Dinah Shore Chevy Show was an NBC variety series hosted by Dinah Shore from October 1956 to June 1963. The series was sponsored by the Chevrolet Motor Division of GM and its theme song, sung by Shore, was "See the U.S.A. in Your Chevrolet", which continued to be used in Chevrolet advertising even after the cancellation of the show.
Best known for his roles as Fantasy Island’s Mr. Roarke and Star Trek’s Khan Noonien Singh, Ricardo Montalbán was the smooth-talking spokesman for the Chrysler Cordoba in the mid-70s, when he famously exclaimed “Look what they’ve done to my car” and extolled the "soft Corinthian leather" used for its interior. Montalbán also advertised the Chrysler New Yorker in magazines in 1986.
If You Can Find a Better Car, Buy It
Throughout the 1980s, the "Motor City's Most Famous Motor Mouth” and the best known auto executive since Henry Ford — legendary Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca — appeared in a series of 61 commercials for the company's vehicles, using the ad campaign "The pride is back" to denote the turnaround of the corporation. Iacocca is credited with leading Chrysler back from the brink of bankruptcy and government bailout during those years.
Have a favorite celebrity car commercial? Care to share your least favorite? Log your comment below or head on over to the Historic Vehicle Association’s Facebook page, tell us what you think, and see what other members are saying.