Companies don’t always know their demographic—or “demo,” as is the common lingo these days. That was the unfortunate case for General Motors in 1983 when the company attempted to win over young customers for the Buick.
Here’s the print ad that ran in magazines at the time:
Auto Week reports that the ad did little to win over young buyers. Why? Well, here’s a little context:
After somehow making it through the Malaise Era—or the period of model-year 1973 through model-year 1983 in the American auto industry—GM’s Buick Division was ready for change. Bye-bye to failures like the Cadillac Cimarron and Pontiac Phoenix. Say no more about the Teapot Dome Scandal. GM reasoned that young customers would simply be too young to recall the Harding administration bribing incident that had given private oil companies zero bidding competition on low-rate petroleum reserves out West. So this magazine ad was aimed at the young’uns. A new era, a new leaf, right?
Nope. Because this ad celebrates tradition. That not someone many young folks immediately appreciate.
“…this magazine ad for the 1983 Buick Century (a Buick-badged version of the Chevrolet Celebrity) seemed more aimed at the octogenarians who had snapped up Electra 225s a decade earlier,” writes Auto Week.
Besides the ad, there was the actual car to blame. It wasn’t luxurious enough for wealthy elderly car buyers and it gear wasn’t techy enough for young people with deep pockets.
Bummer. The upside is that the Buick GNX wasn’t too far off. It came out in 1987 and was, as Auto Week put it in a 2003 article, “bad to the bone, indeed.”
(H/T Auto Week.)