As you know, here at Mac’s Motor City Garage we’re fascinated with the Edsel, the auto industry’s most fabulous flop. This original Edsel commercial provides some wonderful insights into the disaster—watch.
When it was introduced on September 4, 1957, the Edsel was not just a bold experiment in engineering and design, but in marketing as well. And at that moment, the art of television advertising was changing, too. Car commercials were moving out of the studio (with celebrity walkarounds and other techniques) and onto the highway, showing the cars in motion to create a more dynamic feel. Interestingly, this spot for the 1958 Edsel uses both indoor and outdoor scenes in nearly equal measure. Perhaps the producers were hedging their bets.
This spot also focuses at length on the Edsel’s unusual features, including the unique instrument panel with drum-type speedometer and the Teletouch Drive control with its electric shift buttons in the steering wheel hub. These were among the distinctive touches that were designed to present the Edsel as, in the words of the ad writers, “a completely new kind of car, with a wonderful new way to drive.”
But the most dramatic moment is right at the top of the spot. An Edsel emerges from a dark tunnel and drives straight into the camera until the unique (hideous, some will say) horseshoe grille dominates the frame. “This,” the announcer proclaims, “is the Edsel.” In 1958, some folks loved the Edsel and others hated it, it’s fair to say. But this much was certain: Everyone knew what it looked like. Video below.