In 1965, Ford set the advertising world on its ear with a national campaign claiming that its product was actually quieter than the fabulous Rolls-Royce. See the original television spot here.
This ad campaign would not be so earth-shattering in 2017. Today, we know all too well that in automotive build quality, technology and engineering will usually best old-world craftsmanship, especially when the goals can be rigidly quantified. But that was a strange and rather compelling idea in 1965, when Ford launched its famed Quieter-than-a-Rolls-Royce ads in print and television across the country. Ford hired the acoustical research firm of Bolt, Beranek, and Newman (now the BBN division of Raytheon) and used scientific instrumentation to show that the cabin of a full-size Ford sedan was indeed more quiet on the road—at 20, 40, and 60 mph—than the vaunted Rolls-Royce.
The objective, of course, was not to persuade Rolls owners to trade in their Silver Clouds on new Ford Galaxies, but to demonstrate to American car shoppers that Ford offered a quiet, comfortable, high-quality product. The strategy was effective, too, helping Ford to pull neck-and-neck with Chevrolet in sales in 1965 and to briefly pass the bow-tie brand in ’66. The ad theme has been recycled several times since, by American Motors in 1967 and by Ford again in 1980. (And NBC’s Saturday Night Live brilliantly satirized the ad in 1978, creating one of the great TV commercial parodies of all time.) Here’s the commercial that started it all. Video below.