CC TV: 1980s Pontiac Spot – “We Build Excitement”

I’ve been wallowing in the 70s for long enough. Time to kick it up a notch and relive Pontiac’s final glory days. This commercial isn’t just a great review of all the powerful ponchos from the mid-80s, it’s a little time capsule of 80s style and culture. I see big moussed hair, sharp sports coats with the sleeves rolled up like some A&E Night At The Improv stand-up hack, neon, and glam metal bands.

The MTV and Miami Vice influences are strong here. And why not? Pontiac enjoyed a decent resurgence in the 80s, they had a consistent marketing campaign, and some of the more interesting cars in the GM stable. As a teenager, I can clearly recall 1982 as the year the performance woke up from a long slumber, and the new Firebird was one loud alarm clock. The Mustang GT 5.0 was back too, along with the Camaro Z/28. Gas prices started to stabilize and then drop, and country took on a more optimistic tone. We were Americans, by God, and we were gonna exercise our inalienable right to a heavy right foot. At least that’s how P.J. O’Rourke might have put it.

I think this spot aired in 1985, (it was 1987), if I’m reading the front and rear fascias correctly. Perhaps the peak of 80s attitude, and Pontiacs riding about with unabashed bravado. The big stock market crash was just 2 years off, and a nasty recession was to follow. Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.

In the end, the ad makes me a bit sad, given the demise of the brand. I’m not a Pontiac guy, at least not for anything built after 1971, but why couldn’t they have hung on to become an American BMW of sorts? Or at least cashed in on the whole muscle car revival. Imagine (and yes, I know there are some re-bodied concept cars out there) a modern Firebird TransAm twin right along side its Camaro brother. When I see a Mustang Cobra – Challenger Hellcat, – Camaro ZL1 shootout, I can’t help but think someone’s missing.