Ran into this last night. Let’s just say that it’s not just the Imperial we won’t be seeing in ads anymore.
Stephanie’s comment; Eeww! I wish I could unsee that! Me too.
Could we get a child welfare check on the girl please?
There’s a definite “They were a perfect family…but they were hiding a dark secret…” vibe to it. Just a little too formal, just a little too touchy to be so formal.
Serious cars for serious wealthy captains of industry that dared to be different. If you won’t smiles then buy a Roadrunner. Beep beep….
Super creepy. The kid even seems to understand that.
I was looking to see if there was some sort of connection to the picture in the ad copy but there wasn’t. I wish I could say this was the creepiest ad I’ve ever seen, but it isn’t.
Most of the ad and brochure photos of the 69–71 Imperials have little girls. No boys.
“A man is understandably proud of the things that please him most.”
Chrysler’s advertising in ’69 was just weird all around.
Yes, this is another Imperial ad that was rather odd. The girls in this photo look completely miserable — did Chrysler not think that happy people sell cars well?
Yikes…and the girls appear to be barefoot and in nightgowns. And the dude is old enough to be their grandfather. Okay, now I need to gouge out my eyes…
What gets me is not just the creepiness but also how dour everyone looks. Does anyone in any of these photos look happy?
Hey, if you want happy buy a Road Runner. Imperials are for people who hate the world. That’s the REAL reason they’re banned from the demolition derby.
Same license number as in the post ad. Were the families sharing the car?
“The suspect and the girls were last seen preparing to leave in a black, maybe dark blue, Chrysler Imperial, license number 6WW-7139…”
The rear window is defrosted with ducted hot air instead of embedded wires.
Rarely did such a creepy ad promote such a pointless car. There’s an air of insanity about the whole thing.
Because I have money, I have power. You, young lady, will be held back.
You will be subservient.
The answer to the social unrest of the time? (or of any time?)
Where’s his wife? Out at a women’s lib protest?
Maybe the ad is saying that is his wife.
The ad definitely looks creepy to us in 2021. Their solemn expressions don’t help, although that seems to have been the “style” of that era for many car ads.
At that time, Chryslers in general, and the Imperial in particular, had a reputation as being an “old man’s car.” The “regular” Cadillacs weren’t far behind, but Cadillac dealers at least had the Eldorado (I remember reading in a Car and Driver test of a 1970 Eldorado that the average age of Eldorado buyers was five years below the average age of other Cadillac buyers.)
Most likely they wanted to show a mature – but distinguished-looking – man, as it would have been a stretch to feature even a 35-year-old man willingly buying an Imperial in 1969. But he was a man who had a fairly young daughter. So he wasn’t ancient, as the implication was that he still had to be fairly healthy and youthful to keep up with the activities of a teenager. Although, in retrospect, they should have included a model to play his “wife” (and take his hands off the girl’s shoulders!) to lessen the “creepy” factor.
Put his hand on the driver’s door handle and hers on the passenger’s. Or vice-versa and he’s propping a “STUDENT DRIVER” sign on the dash. Either way, they’re on opposite sides of the car.
As a young man of 16, I remember this ad vividly. My original thoughts [in order] on the 3 subjects in photo:
She’s cute. He’s creepy. The car’s ugly.
As an old man of 68, my thought today is:
She’s a grandmother. He’s dead. The car’s still ugly.
I’ve always liked Imperials, and I’ve had quite a few, the earliest was a 1955 Crown 7-seat limousine, the latest a 1967 Crown Coupe with the mobile director seat option. In the middle years I had a 1956 European Facel/Metallon-built sedan, 1959 Southampton 2-door hardtop, 1963 Convertible, 1965 GHIA limousine, and a 1966 Convertible.
I’ve always thought the 1969 and later Imperials were a step backwards in design. They had a bloated “Land yacht” design, not surpassed until the 1993 Cadillac Fleetwood & Buick Roadmaster bodies.
I’m 94 now and I had one just like that. The car that is. Stomp on the gas and that baby would scoot, and I mean scoot, like the proverbial bat. Handled well for such a big rig. Too bad they don’t make them anymore. AMC made some fine cars that year too. The AMX was a blast. THAT baby would really scoot!
Chrysler ads for the Imperial at that time were VERY creepy. Here’s another one….
I read the fist sentence of copy and then looked up ‘certail’. Lexico hasn’t heard of it.
And this one…. even creepier, when you view it through today’s worldview. What does a pre-pubescent child have to do with selling a luxury car????
Perhaps as one might be thought eccentric in taste to choose an Imperial over a Cadillac, other peculiarities of character might be indulged in as well – no doubt to the taste of whoever dreamt up this ad.
It was 1970, a different world. You had to be there.
In my case, Grandfather came over on Saturday morning in his brand-new car to take us somewhere. First stop was “Slipped discs” where we could choose any 8-track we wanted. Then, with our music blaring through the Imperial stereo, he’d take us to breakfast, or the park.
You won’t see a kid smiling like that if Gramps showed up in an old Skylark! “Grt an Imperial, grandfather- the kids will want to go out with you haha!
1969 Imperial – sequential turn signals!
Think she’ll take the bus, instead of getting a ride from “Daddy Dearest” in his Imperial…
The ad copy is pretty bad too. Is it good writing to close with “Yes and no”?
“It is unlike any previous Imperial. Indeed, unlike any other American luxury car”
But way too much like a Chrysler, Dodge, or Plymouth…
What is this ad getting at anyway? What “tradition” is begin broken here? (maybe I shouldn’t ask).
begin = being
why the “edit” feature never work when I need it?
The rounded, “fuselage” styling was a major change from the Lincoln-like 1964-66 models, and the rectilinear 1967-68 models.
Gotta remember those who made these ads puoured bourbon in their morning coffee and considered their secretarie’s measurements and lack of age more than their resumes.
I’d love to know thethinking of the guys who came up with this ad campaign. At first glance the idea seems to have been that we’ll show grandad with his grandaughter(s). He’s successful but still hip enough that his grandaughters like his company. The grandads all look like they’re channeling Robert Wagner, who was a suave and cool icon at the time.
The execution failed miserably, though.
I imagine a Mad Men meeting where Pete Campbell flips the board to reveal one of these ads after the big buildup (along the lines of the above), and the Chrysler clients have to stifle their gag reflex. They leave in a huff, and Don Draper pulls Pete aside and tells him to never embarass him like that again or he’ll personally run over him with a riding mower.
Except that didn’t happen, apparently.
The creepy brochure for the 1966 Imperial which also gives off “Mad Men” vibes must have gone over so badly they created a second, entirely different version (see both versions here: http://www.oldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/Chrysler_and_Imperial/1966_Chrysler/dirindex.html). “Imperial Brochure 2”, which I think was actually the earlier one, should have had on the cover, “Imperial, the car for stuck-up men who are full of themselves”, or maybe “Imperial, the car for men who are worried about their masculinity”. It gets worse as it goes on and “the man” describes how he must treat the woman in his life, which is the only mention of women in the entire brochure.
No bras were burned in the making of this brochure.
Although a few might have been removed through coercion or with force.
Why am I not surprised that the brochures didn’t mention that the Imperial was one of the last (or maybe the very last) new cars that still had a wrap around windshield.
Suddenly it’s 1960…..
You folks do realize that the Jeffrey Epstein story is not unique to this world and to history, especially when observing the financial and political elite. Sorry, needed to be said even if it’s shocking to consider.
I thought ‘Epstein ad agency’ myself. These are creepy as can be, and would have been as creepy back then.
“Susan hated the times her parents would jet off to the Caribbean and leave her with Grandfather. She could abide the visits when Grandmother was alive, but now that she was gone it was just day after day of emotional coldness in the mornings followed by afternoons of freely flowing bourbon and then . . . the evenings, the less said of which the better.”
I this says more about our time than it does 1969.
The late 50’s and early 60’s were a time when ad men created a fantasy world, and consumers were willing to believe it existed and would allow them entrance if they purchased the proper accutrements.
By the late 60’s, this fantasy was getting pretty well torn up by assassinations, race riots and the Vietnam War, but Mr. and Mrs. Suburbia had not gotten (or refused to believe) the memo.
We’ve now come to where many people don’t believe in anything anymore, and this ad is seen not as a fantasy, but a reflection of our sick reality. I agree with you that it didn’t reflect reality in its time, and now simply reveals us for what we’ve become.
So it’s a car for widowers.
It’s no different from a lot of ads that appeal to seniors for products like insurance and such that show a person or couple in their 60s doing things with kids of 5 years old or less. And it makes it appear not like Grandpa or Grandma with the grandkids, but trying to make it look like Dad or Mom with kid. Never do you see the kid’s parent, or someone of an appropriate age for being the parent, just the old folks with the toddler. It creates a false narrative that the person using the product or service is young and carefree, not a crotchety old geezer. Think about it, the appropriate shot would be some old dude chasing that same kid off his lawn, not gleefully cavorting in the park with them.They tried to make the target audience feel younger than they are, and that just looks creepy to us, not them.
These ads are almost exclusively mature men and little girls. Almost no adult women, no competing males. This isn’t attempting to represent an average parenting/grandparenting scenario. The male is groomed and dressed to the nines in a luxury environment.
If you poke around Imperial advertising in this period, you’ll find an adult woman, but I don’t think there are any competing males, even on a wedding day.
If I try to wind back the clock, I am seeing a campaign that is trying to say that a wealthy man’s success is really in his progeny, not in his acquisitions. But, to show that, he needs to acquire an Imperial….
Maybe this is an oblique reference to the dumping of wife no. 1 and the acquisition of wife no. 2, who presents the successful man with proof off his potency…
I can imagine the pitchmen saying, “Maybe they’re his granddaughters… buuuuuut… maybe they’re his daughters…
That’s what I thought about this one too, Barry. I collect ads, but I’ve never seen this campaign before; I don’t spend that much time on post-1967 stuff. Either way, the idea makes sense but the presentation is a notch or two off center.
As someone already mentioned, the copy itself is grim. It’s not even cheesy fun like some of the old ads.
I’ve seen these ads before, and never much read into them that much. I always assumed it proof “I raised my children, and these are my grandchildren I can afford to spend time with. Notice how they are behaved, dignified”. The one in a comment above, however with the smiling girl looks to be a dress with a peace sign pattern. That’s… different.
As to the rear seat in a field brochure photo, regarding Airtemp, “enough capacity to cool a 5 room house.” That sounds absurd on its face, but I swear on my life Dad used to tell me the A/C in his parents ‘73 Newport Custom was so strong on a humid summer day literal frost would form on the vents. No way, I thought. I’m inclined to believe him after reading that.
It sticks in my mind that GM air conditioning from this era had enough capacity to cool a small house – and I read this in an independent source, not a brochure or advertisement.
We had a whole discussion on that recently. Yes, car a/c is quite powerful, as it needs to cool down a poorly insulated steel and glass box very quickly, which is quite different than what is expected of a home a/c unit.
I can attest to the BTU power of Chrysler Airtemp A/C units back in the day. In 1973 I bought a new Dodge 3/4 ton B-200 Tradesman van, ordering it with the options I wanted, including factory A/C. I hesitated when the salesman asked me if I was sure I wanted factory A/C, and I asked him why, he said “Because it’s $460.00”. And on a Van with a base sticker of about $2,200, that’s a hefty price. I put over 250,000 miles on that van, and never regretted spending the money on the A/C.
In 1978 a friend visiting from Europe and I, left the California coast at Hearst’s San Simeon Castle. Heading up into the hills, we planned on arriving in Barstow in the afternoon. About an hour into the trip, I turned the A/C on because it was starting to get a bit hot outside. On arriving in Barstow, I opened the van’s door and jumped out, suddenly becoming aware of the outside 114 degree air! We didn’t realize it was so hot because my Dodge truck’s A/C was that good.
A couple of nights later found us at a campground in south east Texas, with one of those 195 nights. You know, 100 degrees and 95 percent humidity. No wind. During this trip we usually stayed in the back of the van. That night, neither of us could sleep. I ended up starting the van & turned on the A/C to the “Max” setting. Middle of the night I had to pull a blanket over me ’cause I was cold!
Back in the humid mid-Atlantic region, there were many instances where ice really would start forming outside at the base of the windshield [below the area where the wipers were “parked”], as a little bit of cold air would leak out of the defroster vents, this typically happened at night.
Best $460 option I ever ordered!
When I moved to SoCal in late summer of 1972 my great aunt and uncle still had their pristine 1965 Chrysler Newport with Airtemp. At the time they lived in Ojai which goes over 100 degrees on many summer days. I remember how fast that system could cool a hot car and keep it very cold on our road trips. They too never regretted buying their first air conditioned car when they retired and left the Midwest for life in sunny SoCal. 1965 was a great year for Chrysler.
I don’t remember these ads at all – most likely because I disliked the fuselage models from Chrysler and completely ignored them. I still feel that way half a century later.
Folks: This line from “Stripes” comes to mind: “Lighten up, Francis.”
I see a father, grandfather or uncle, in a posed photo. Or perhaps he the sponsor for her church confirmation, posing with her for a commemorative photo.
This isn’t an accident or selective editing of a broader canvas. The whole campaign is about the power and privilege of wealth and achievement, including ad copy. Almost every scene is a well dressed mature man and one or more little girls. Very few adult women, no other males.
I agree with you, Jeff, I am sure the ads were intended and mostly received as Grandfather spending time with granddaughter(s). No untoward situations intended, but I do think the lack of smiles gives it a bit of a hostage video vibe. Smiles would make the situation much clearer and happier looking!
I know, right!!
“Mommy’s body fits just fine in the 22.4 cubic foot trunk, with room to spare. And now I have Daddy all to myself…”
Actually a handsome car; the plane up front reminds me of the tail end of the Millennium Falcon.
Speaking of big old Chryslers, I just saw a mid-70’s wagon in very good shape from a quick glance. Probably a very rare car (even when new). If you’d asked, I wouldn’t have said that Chrysler made a wagon on that body.
Nothing , I mean nothing, is as creepy as Imperial 1973
Wow, that is creepy! The brochure has a haunting, Andrew Wyeth vibe to it. The man in the window with the loud suitcoat looks like a cross between Ronald Reagan and Johnny Cash (pp. 3 and 4). Odd how the furniture in the farmhouse consists of Imperial front seats.
It’s interesting that on page 2, even Mopar refers to the car as the “Chrysler Imperial.”
That window shot is reminding me of an album cover but I’m not sure which one. Sort of a cross between Tim Hardin 2 and Led Zeppelin 4…
I think Chrysler gave up on trying to position Imperial as a separate brand by about 1972. The Imperial was lumped in with New Yorkers and Newports in their ads by then.
I was going to say the same about the homage to Andrew Wyeth. Take this for example:
Gramps is showing his granddaughter what luxury is all about.
“Get serious girls, if you want to take over the board room, you need a car like this.”
“Female empowerment” while he has a firm grip on both of her shoulders? He’s showing her something but it sure as hell isn’t “female empowerment’.
Paul, I come here for commentary about cars, the era they were in, and to hear what others are saying.
This is the first site I go to in the morning. So much on this site is wonderful. The posts, the reviews, and the subsequent commentary from fans.
I read every comment. So many are just so interesting. So many have experience with the brands that are discussed.
Thanks for maintaining the integrity of the site. We all love cars and we are here to discuss them. We are here to discuss cars.
Thank you Paul!
I’m not quite sure how to take your comment, which is a bit unusual for me. Serious, or delicately sarcastic for deviating from talking just about cars?
My comment was complementary. There were a couple of veiled political comments that had quickly been removed. Another reason I like this site.
Agreed. Too many non-political blogs have been ruined by politics that I don’t go to anymore. If you want to argue policy, there’s plenty of places, just don’t do it here.
I think the creepiest thing is the darkness in the minds of a lot of the people commenting on this advert.
If you’ve ever been abused by an authority figure, you probably wouldn’t say that.
I don’t see anyone being “abused” – just a silly advert from a long time ago which many here seem to be interpreting in a remarkably unpleasant way.
If this ad were a video the girl will be blinking ‘HELP’ in semaphore.
50 years ago the average American wasn’t aware there were people in our population who did such dastardly things, only hearing about rare instances when it did become public. It wasn’t until about 25 years ago that things started changing, and abused people began reporting problems, unwilling to remain silent like previous generations.
So what was perceived as a simple ad in 1969, is today, fodder for speculation concerning the original intent. All in all, I am pretty sure no one planning this series of ads thought about what people today would suggest or read into it.
The issue — and the reason I posted this — is not so much about implicit sexual abuse. What this ad is about is a carefully constructed retort to what was going on at the time in 1969: female liberation, as well as black power, gay liberation, anti-war demonstrations, environmental activists, and other massive social movements at the time that were rocking the country.
This ad–as well as others by American big car/luxury car manufacturers at the time–is telling you that all is well for powerful white men. No need to worry! You can afford a big house with a strong fence and electric gate and a big car that will isolate you from the crazy shit happening out there in the streets of the cities and on the campuses. You are still firmly in control, including your daughter/granddaughter, who is wearing a rather prim outfit, not the kind a more hip or “liberated ” young girl would actually be wearing in 1969.
You’re white, affluent, and powerful, and nothing that these crazy kids/women/blacks/gays are doing out there can change that. And as long as you exercise your paternalistic control over your kids, they will be fine too.
This is what American luxury car buyers–who by 1969 or so were well on their way to being almost exclusively conservative–wanted to hear. Reassurance that their privilege and power were not being threatened. And making a statement by driving one of these cars.
Everything we’ve seen unfold socially and politically since then started right around the time this ad was created. It’s not about covert sexual abuse of a minor; it’s overtly about maintaining power and control, however that might be expressed. And that battle is still being fought today, as we can see all too obviously and painfully.
Or you could be oblivious to all that stuff by growing up in a small farm town. No Imperials. A stray Lincoln or Cadillac rarely. Too much hassle for our high society wannabes. Buying one required a special trip to a distant out of town dealer. Besides, fancy cars didn’t impress like a new John Deere. Weren’t as useful either.
You could hardly be oblivious to “all that stuff” in 1969 if you watched network TV or read a newspaper, no matter where you lived in the US. Like Paul, I lived through this era, and it was quite clear that change was in the air.
Well, I lived near a small rural town in a large rural county. Plenty of Imperials, Caddys and Lincolns. The local doctor owned several imperials. A nearby family once owned lots of the big Chryslers, Dodges and Plymouths, including a few Imperials. We had creeps all over the place. you just wound up getting shot if you were caught, or in you were released from jail. People knew who you were and where you lived.
And, John Deere were really scarce in my area. Nearly every county had an International Harvester dealer and the dominated the West Alabama area until the late 1980s, when IH was sold to Case and the dealers chose to close shop rather than sell Case, which were mostly junk.
Paul, thanks for this. As you so often do, you cut through the clutter and nail the essential point. This is what I was trying to say in my most recent reply above.
The only thing I’d add is that the stoic aspect of the girls that we find so creepy today, was probably intended to show that unlike so many wild children of the late ’60’s, the progeny of Imperial owners were polite and well-behaved, just like them.
Her hands are behind her back because he’s one mm away from getting his yarbles ripped off.
In your dreams.
Uhmm, I just see a young lady who asked Gramp for a pony. He said yes. She’s not comfortable posing for pictures. I hope they had a lovely relationship and she enjoyed her pony.
What gets me is the tagline – “Should a luxury car break with tradition?” closed with “yes and no”
Perhaps I’m reading more into the text than the picture but despite the cliche car ad platitudes it’s making a case to be contemporary with the times while at the same time carrying on tradition that defines it. From a social commentary as Paul described the text is almost incongruous with the image, or at least much more centrist in its hidden message in comparison.
Chrysler mad men really played all sides of the culture in 69 didnt they?
The first thing coming to my mind when seeing this ad: gothic horror novels by V.C. Andrews. They were quite popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s before fizzling out to the cultural obscurity.
I think you should judge ads like this in the context of their time, not in the context of ours.
Too easy to go all modern day PC on this and see all kinds of things that aren’t there.
1969 was a different time with different mores.
Next let’s take a look at “normal” 2021 from the eye of a 1920 something.
“OMG you can see their thighs!”
What I see, is what I remember.
I remember old men who knew what it was like to be forced to grow up in a world that threatened their very existence. They were shut up into boxes, made to wear identical uniforms, and forced to kill other young men in French villages, Dutch towns, South Pacific islands, and not complain. They could not cry. They could not show fear. They could not come out of any closets. They were to marry a woman. Have many children. Raise that family on what they earned with their hands and minds. They had to undergo full responsibilities for everything. There were no shoulders to cry on except Jack Daniels.
They built international peace organizations to prevent another war like they lived. They harnessed the atom for peace. They paid their taxes so that their children could attend a university that they couldn’t have attended, when they were young and fighting back the evils of this world.
These men built the world we know today. The dams, ports, military, suburbs, churches and governments. All for us. It wasn’t fair, but they knew that life wasn’t fair.
They offered strict lessons to their young. They were stern. They were afraid of us going through what they went through, so many times they told us things without a smile. They did what they felt needed to be done. They sacrificed so much.
So please show a little respect. We no longer have a generation of men like them anymore. They were good guys and deserve better, in my opinion. I remember them and they might have seemed a bit scary at first, but when you listened, you discovered that they weren’t scary at all – just scarred, but brave.
Thank you sir, well said.
Ditto. Here’s another picture of what could be that guy…with another vehicle:
And now we can’t unsee the image.
Chrysler Board – “Sir, we will approve your ad campaign as proposed – (much whispering) – with one stipulation.”
Ad agency – (Happy Sigh) “Ummm…what stipulation?”
Chrysler Board – “We want to appear in the ads (more back and forthing) with our families.”
Ad agency – “Let me see your family pics…Sir, your wives, how do I put this, well they’re too _mature_ for an ad campaign like this. Only John Delorian has the kind of wife that studies show would appeal to your target buyer.”
Board member – “If we ask our mistresses, our wives will know who has one. If we ask our wives, our mistress will know we have one.”
Chryslery CEO – “Okay, just our kids or grandkids”
And that’s how we arrived at today’s discussion!
Whether or not any reader feels comfortable analyzing the subtext of this ad from a space of 50 years later, there *is* subtext here. Anytime there’s a person other than a salesman talking tech or deals in a car ad, there’s subtext.
Across the campaign as a whole the gender portrayals can only be intentional – Imperial Man could just as easily have (grand)son(s) exclusively or a mix, but only the owner and (a) young girl(s) are shown across multiple ads, never mind allowing a portrayal of Imperial Woman. The possessive poses, somber expressions and dimly lit eyes are all conscious design choices. Everything we see in an ad is, then or now, it would be disingenuous to claim otherwise. It would be fascinating to read the agency’s notes on the campaign.
It would be interesting to know what if anything contemporary critics said of this ad campaign; after Vance Packard’s original Hidden Persuaders, there was a minor growth industry built around academic (or quasi-academic) criticism of the ad industry aimed at a mass-market readership through the ’60s into the ’70s. It made enough of a cultural splash that it’s no coincidence Mad Men featured the ad industry in the ’60s.
“My ex got the house.
“I got the car, and our daughter”
Or the wife ran off with the pool boy and left him to deal with the kid.
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