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Refreshing Candor in 1960s Magazine Ads

Mechanix Illustrated

An office mate of mine showed me some old copies of magazines he picked up at a garage sale, including this May 1960 issue of Mechanix Illustrated. With features on how to assemble your own trailer and build your own amazing jet boat, and a behind-the-scenes profile of gunpowder-powered projectiles (the one-handed shotguns used by the Santa Monica police), it’s the Make Magazine of its era.

Charles Atlas

I was delighted to spot this ad for the Charles Atlas exercise book, and its promise to convert readers into He-Men. (I had never seen the actual ad before, but I knew of its existence from my grandfather’s old joke in which he claims to have sent the following letter, six weeks after ordering the book: “Dear Mr Atlas. Thank you for the book. I read the whole thing, now please send the muscles.”)

Chevy Corvair

My favorite thing about the ads in general, though is that — unlike so many viral and (bad) native campaigns you see today — these vintage ads aren’t afraid to be ads. They show a pride in their company’s products and they couldn’t be more transparent in their salesmanship. “Replace those old [spark] plugs with new full-firing Champions.” “Dollar for dollar, drill for drill — now is the time to buy” a Black and Decker drill. “The man to see is your Chevrolet dealer — and there’s no better time than now.” I don’t know how many cars or drills or spark plugs these ads would sell to the ad-fatigued consumers of 2013, but at least they’re not playing deceptive games with typeface to fool us into looking.

200 Brands With the Largest Ad Budgets

Would you have guessed that Chevy spends more than Ford or Toyota? Or that Macy’s spends more than Target? Other rankings that surprised me: Arm & Hammer spends more than Gatorade, Kia spends more than Volkswagen, and Ashley Furniture spends more than Ikea.

Check out this great infographic that ranks the top 200 brands by the size of their 2009 and 2010 ad budgets.

Top Auto Ad Spenders

The top two in each category (first, second):

Auto: Chevy, Ford
Retail: Walmart, Macy’s
Apparel: Skechers, Nike
Telecom: AT&T, Verizon
Restaurants: McDonald’s, Subway
Food and Beverage: Coke, Campbell
Beer: Budweiser, Miller
Cleaning Products: Tide, Clorox
Financial Services: American Express, Chase
Beauty and Personal Care: L’Oreal Paris, Olay
Insurance: Geico, Progressive
Consumer Electronics: Microsoft, Apple
Media: DirecTV, Dish Network
Drugs: Lipitor, Cialis

NY Times Gets Hip to Conversational Marketing

Chevy NYT Welcome Page

The New York Times has launched a sponsored content section in partnership with Chevy that brings together editorial stories from the Times archive featuring GM, Chevy, fuel cell and hybrid vehicles.

I love it. How could I not? It’s a full sibling of The Best of the Green Web site FM launched in partnership with Chevy back in May. I may love it even more, since it’s validation from the Gray Lady that conversational marketing — if done transparently and authentically — can coexist comfortably with the most respected ethics in journalism.

Chevy NYT Artilces

(Disclosure: The Gray Lady is an investor in FM.)

Business Week on Chevy's Best of Green Web

The crew at Business Week’s Blogspotting isn’t convinced that Chevy’s Best of the Green Web sponsored site is conversational enough:

“Chevy says on the site that it wants to start a conversation. But if that’s the case, I would expect the site to be all about the technologies that will make cars more fuel efficient and less damaging in terms of resources used and carbon dioxide emitted. And I would expect Chevy’s folks to be contributing their own news about what they’re doing.”

I don’t think Blogspotting spent enough time at the site. Here’s the comment I posted to the original story:

“I agree with your critique of conversational marketing where marketing brands don’t have a voice in the discussion. In the case of Chevy’s sponsorship of the Best of the Green Web site, however, they do have a voice. Chevy is providing its own news and updates on its fuel-solutions technologies — see the left column, just below the Recent Comments. The idea is to take consumer feedback, and to addressed it issue by issue. Even tough questions like ‘Aren’t you the guys who killed the electric car?’ Creating authentic media — whether it’s editorial media or media connected to a marketing project — is hard work, and success is defined by each reader or viewer. Based on traffic and repeat traffic to this site, and engagement with the content provided by Chevy, this experience is working for a fair number of green-minded consumers. At the very least, it’s a move by Chevy in the right direction, a move towards a more fluid two-way dialog with customers.”

FM Launches 'Green' Federation

You careful ChasNote readers may have seen this coming when you read last month about Chevy’s sponsorship the Best of the Green Web project (or Dell’s sponsorship of a green drawing contest in Facebook’s Graffiti), but now it’s official. FM has launched its Green Federation, a collection of the best green-leaning sites online, including Inhabitat, GigaOM’s Earth2Tech and the ViroPOP video network.

Inhabitat Logo

Here’s the press release.

Chevy's Green Group Blog Adds Video

ViroPop’s ZapRoot green-topics video program is now syndicating content on Best of the Green Web, the green group blog coordinated by FM and sponsored by GM’s Chevy brand.