The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Polishing A Turd With Words …

Recently I saw this ad for British Leyland cars.

British Leyland was a – surprise, surprise – British car manufacturer formed in the late 60’s.

As you can see, they made a huge array of cars but the joke was they weren’t very well made.

If I remember rightly, there was a joke that said:

“Buy British … they fall apart more quickly so you can buy a proper car”.

I don’t know if that was true – though the way British manufacturing has fallen by the wayside, suggests there could be some truth to it – but I do know I thought the TR7 and MGB, the two cars at the top of the pile, were cool.

But let’s look at that ad for a moment.

Cramming four different models of vehicle on a single page is bad enough. But when it has been art directed to look like they’re all on top of each other – resembling a scene from a scrapyard – is hardly the best way to sell ‘British’.

And they are selling ‘British’ because if you look at the very bottom of the ad, you see it’s got a New Jersey address, which suggests this ad was for the US market.

While I get the reason they would want to do that [the US market was huge and the amount of ‘foreign cars’ available at that time was small] I don’t know if that image would make the average American want to give up their GM or Chrysler … especially when the justification British Leyland have for ownership is ‘their appeal is reflected in their recent sales performance’.


What makes it worse are those words associated with each model.


It all just smacks of early brand consultant bollocks doesn’t it.

And while I kind of get why they chose those words – though labelling the Jag, ‘a legend’, somehow makes it feel old rather than cool – I can’t help feel sorry for the Marina, tagged ‘practical’.

At least those other models have words that suggest some element of energy and dynamism to them, but ‘practical’ just sounds like they’re trying to say ‘shit’ in a more polite way.

To be fair, they’re right. It was shit.

My Dad had – for a short while – a Marina.

In mustard yellow and brown.

It was utterly horrific.

Even though his was the ‘fastback’ model, I still remember being utterly embarrassed by it.

The colour, The shape. The everything.

I was so glad when he got rid of it, though I have a horrible feeling he changed it for another yellow car – this time a Fiat 128 – but at least that had 4 doors, which made it feel a step up.

But imagine how a Jag owner would feel after spending thousands on their car, only to see that piece of Marina engineering shit was ‘on top’ of their premium priced motor.

British Leyland always seemed to have a knack of fucking things up.

Continually chasing others success with bad interpretations of their own.

It’s a bit like small film studios …. who on seeing another movies success, launch a tsunami of similar themed films, all with names that are derivatives of the original, in the hope people may get confused and see their’s instead.

British Leyland totally adopted this strategy.

The TR7 was the Fiat X/19

The Marina was the Ford Cortina

And in 1980, the Mini Metro was their version of the Mini.

Oh my god, I remember the launch of that car.

It was heralded as the pinnacle of the British car industry and launched with one of the most jingoistic ads you’ll ever see.

Did you see it?

Jesus christ … it’s like it was written by the Far Right.

Or the Daily Mail.

I still remember when it got unveiled and just thinking, “it looks shit”.

Well, while it didn’t end up ‘taking over the world’, it was successful in the UK and even saved British Leyland from bankruptcy – for a while – but what it all ends up reminding me is how many companies forget that just because something is successful in one country doesn’t mean it will work in another.

I’ve seen – and worked in – too many organisations who think they are the best in the World.

That their worst is better than everyone else’s best.

That sort of thinking is a recipe for disaster.

Not just in terms of encouraging laziness, but it’s one thing to think you’re good, but it’s another thing altogether to think everyone else is just a lesser version of you.

The amount of companies I saw crash and burn in China was amazing.

Thinking that by simply being ‘Western’, they would be appealing.

Maybe that worked before, but what they failed to realise is that in a nation where everything said something about you, it quickly became the most brand literate nation on the planet.

The old premise remains.

If you want others to respect you, respect them … and it starts by not just trying to sell something because it convenient to you.

Amazing how few people still seem to understand that.

20 Comments so far
Leave a comment

british fucking leyland? fucking hell campbell, i know you live in nz but theres no reason to go 50 fucking years in the past.

Comment by andy@cynic

Hahahaha … there was a famous story when I lived in Australia of a pilot coming into land in Adelaide.

The story goes that the pilot came on the intercom and said:

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are now approaching Adelaide airport. Please put your watches back 20 years”.

I really hope it’s true. I doubt it, but I would love it.

Comment by Rob

Andy FTW.

Comment by DH

that metro ad is proper shite. who were the creatives on it? middle england meets daily mail?

Comment by andy@cynic

I know. Mainly because that’s basically what I said in the post. Hahaha

Comment by Rob

you think i pay close attention to the shit you write?

Comment by andy@cynic

and why the fuck are you posting hours earlier than yesterday. i need you to be consistent so i know when to ignore the internet.

Comment by andy@cynic

Just enjoying one of the few times I get to mess with you.

Comment by Rob

you messed my whole fucking life up campbell. isnt that enough? prick.

Comment by andy@cynic

Welcome back Robert. It has been quiet without you. I hope you and the family are settling into New Zealand life. What a wonderful country that is. Have you started at Colenso?

Comment by Lee Hill

I’ll remind you of that when you want me to just shut up.

New Zealand is incredible so far. There is an element of familiarity as it’s a hybrid of Sydney and LA but without the annoying parts of Sydney and LA … but we are loving exploring and discovering.

I haven’t started at Colenso. It was going to be April 1 [how apt eh] but now it will be April 6. Can’t wait.

Comment by Rob

Will Colenso be delaying your start date to 2050?

Comment by DH

They may have been rubbish, but at least they were distinctive enough to tell them apart. That is more than I can say for the aerodynamic blandness that cover the roads now.

Comment by Pete

Exactly what i was thinking!

Comment by Age

I think that ad was the start of brexit.

Comment by Pete

Hahahaha … you could be right.

Of course, with the EU’s debacle of the vaccination program, there’s a lot of talk about brexit being brilliant. That will last right up until the moment people need to trade with the EU and go on holiday there.

Comment by Rob

Is the jag a stretched version of the austin marina?

Comment by DH

That’s mad. I had never looked at it that way before but I can see it. Imagine the collar they could have done … “Introducing the new Jaguar Marina, its practicality is legendary”.

Comment by Rob

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

Comment by Billy Whizz

Iโ€™m taking bets on what time Rob will release his latest masterpiece. I mean piece.

Comment by Bazza

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