2/4/11

Champion Spark Plugs - Ask Scotty.

If you're like me, when you think of preventative car maintenance, you think of a little dog. After all, spark plugs and dogs are both smaller than you (probably), and both are made of ceramic and are used to ignite flammable gases. That's why it was a natural for Champion to use this Scotty dog as a mascot.
Apparently, this dog was not just a one-off ad for the company. I found this ebay listing selling a similar full-page ad from an old magazine for five dollars. The ad is a different one, warning us that "Summer ahead. Install new Champion spark plugs." Did old cars really need new plugs every season? I reckon Craig or Dan will know the answer. They've got the knowin' and the doin' of lots of car stuff.

If Champion thought they could get away with it, I'm sure they'd have customers swapping out their spark plugs several times a day. "Lunch ahead. Install new Champion spark plugs."

Then there's this offer of a half-page version of this ad for eleven dollars. What a scam. I'm sure you get a nice piece of cardboard and a plastic bag to go with it, though.

Anyway, it's a nice enough painting, although I wonder why Champion chose to run the entire campaign in two-color ink? Black and red. Wait! Hold the phone. Google image search reveals full-color versions of these ads. Gotta make a note to have the Editing and Anti-Embarrassment team cut out that bit about the exclusive two color printing. That was a close one.

4 comments:

Craig said...

Here's the deal:

Everything about cars prior to about 1973 was a royal pain in the ass.

I love old cars, but here are a few things you needed to contend with:

- Six-volt electrical systems: Largely vanished by the early 1960s, but circa 1950 when this ad was produced, 6-volt systems were still all the rage. They had enough power to turn the engine about four times, and you couldn't use the headlamps with any other accessory.

- Carburetors: While relatively simple, carburetors were also smashingly inefficient. It would be as if you consumed food by having it shot across the room at you by a catapult. You could get a cheeseburger in your mouth, but you'd have to throw 62 of them to get the job done.

- Points ignition: Until the advent of solid state ignition in the 1970s, every driver had to carry around a kit with a little screwdriver a wrench and a points file to keep the energy from the coil flowing in correct time. Awful.

Between the points and the lousy 6-volt system, and the imprecise fuel metering, spark plugs fouled all the time. You can go a hundred thousand miles without ever changing plugs now, but in those days, annual tuneups were mandatory.

PS: The use of Scotty dogs and the "Scotch" brand by 3M signaled one thing - Cheapness.

Phil Are Go! said...

Mr. Craigson, you do not disappoint!

Craig said...

This may well be apocryphal, but it gets to the idea:

The brandname Scotch came about while Richard Drew was testing his first masking tape to determine how much adhesive he needed to add. The bodyshop painter became frustrated with the sample masking tape and exclaimed, "Take this tape back to those Scotch bosses of yours and tell them to put more adhesive on it!" The name was soon applied to the entire line of 3M tapes.

Craig said...

Other brands test-marketed by 3M:

Polack(r) brand Double-Sided tape
Squarehead(r) brand Masking Tape
Irish Need Not Apply(r) brand Sticky Notes

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