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Home/Technical Info/ Pontiac/
Collecting Part 1: Selling the Sizzle - The Paper Chase, 1964-1974


The only ad I've been able to locate featuring the 1971 GTO.
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Information about this item:

The Paper Chase Part 1

by Eric White, Reprint with Society permission only.

We may be able to blame it on our hunter/gatherer ancestors. It's an insidious, insatiable, sometimes uncontrollable, and in most instances very expensive desire to collect objects. You name it, somebody collects it: matchbooks, coasters, coins, stamps, sports cards, comic books, record albums, salt & pepper shakers, vinyl action figures, beer bottles or cans, political campaign buttons, Civil War memorabilia, Duncan and Fife furniture, Leonardo Da Vinci sketches, Stradivarius stringed musical instruments...well you get the idea.

As the most dominant industry of the 20th century, or any century for that matter, the automobile manufacturing juggernaut has produced an unbelievably vast mountain of collectible stuff.

Besides the car itself, thousands of items connected to the design, manufacture, promotion, sales, and service of the auto have been produced. If it's been created, somebody collects it. Ranging from items like sales brochures, of which tens of thousands were produced, to one-of-a-kind objects like the original Tempra paintings used to illustrate those same brochures, the gotta-have-it collecting bug has plenty to feed on. Once you've been bitten, guard your bank account!

One of those bugs nailed me over thirty years ago, and my pocket book has been reeling ever since. I refer to the wonderful world of ink on paper. In a world before VHS, CD ROM, and the Internet, almost all information had to be disseminated via the good old fashioned art of printing on paper. The shear volume of items printed over the fourteen years of GTO production makes the goal of collecting everything ever printed by Pontiac Motor Division a nearly impossible feat.

To this day I continue to find new and wonderful items that I didn't know existed. While I have put together a fairly complete set of common items like magazine ads and sales brochures, I know that I will never manage to get a hold of everything. I guess that knowledge is the driving force behind my continued search for all that is Pontiac GTO. So wide ranging is this subject, I'd like to divide its discussion into four different areas: promotional, sales, service and the ever popular miscellaneous.

Promotional items

Items in this category to include primarily pieces that were distributed or produced for use outside the dealership display/sales floor.

Magazine/periodical advertisements and reviews

I have written at length on this particular subject in the past, and I will be the first to admit that my collection is not all-inclusive. I have managed to identify and gather 82 different magazine ads relating to the GTO, 27 ads that feature the GTO while promoting a different product, and 92 GTO test or review articles. The majority of these ads and articles are to be found in American magazines, however, articles and advertisements may also be located in foreign publications. Magazines from Canada, Australia, and England are good sources, however, virtually any country in which a GTO was sold new could, in theory, have offered press coverage of the Pontiac muscle car. Don't restrict your search strictly to the monthly enthusiast auto magazines. Several publishers also issued a yearly review issue or separate magazine title covering all of that year's automotive offerings, or perhaps even a specialized booklet featuring the high performance machines of the day. An example of such a publication, Petersen's World of Wheels The Complete Automotive Almanac, features the only source I have yet identified for an advertisement promoting the 1971 GTO.

There are two more sources for GTO ads; the first is publications or magazines that do not feature the automobile as the primary subject matter. Very interesting ads can be found in Playbill and Stage theater programs from the 1966 to 1968 time frame. The N.A.D.A. monthly magazines, aimed at the automotive dealership network, featured a series of ads extolling the revolutionary virtues of the then new 1968 GTO. Automotive News helped promote the 69 and 70 GTO The Judge in two singular ads. Also, professional sport team programs, in particular teams from Detroit and Buffalo, auto show programs, and even a Monkees concert program contained one-of-a-kind GTO ads. All in all, there are at least 19 unique ads to be found in these hard-to-find magazines and programs.

An additional 22 ads can be found in back issues of our nation's city newspapers. As one of the first targets of the recycling movement, old newsprint is hard to find today. Due to the inexpensive nature of newsprint, samples of these ads, when found, are usually in yellowed and brittle condition. Ads in this medium ran from 1965 to 1970. In addition to multi-column black and white advertisements, an occasional full-color advertising supplement might have been inserted into the local paper. Since these multi-page inserts were printed in color, they were also printed on a slightly better quality, and thus more durable, grade of paper. As pull-outs, they were more likely to be saved, thus easier to come by today.

Click here to access the AHPS archive of vintage Pontiac magazine advertisements.

Advertisement mechanicals

The ultimate collectible in the area of magazine and newspaper advertising would have to be the original photo-ready layouts or pasteups of the ads. These would have been transformed into film negatives to be used to burn printing plates for use on high-speed offset or rotogravure printing presses. The printer may have kept these negatives for a period of time and then disposed of them. Pontiac's ad agency, McManus, John & Adams Inc., would have retained the layouts of these ads for an indeterminate amount of time. Perhaps the various parts and pieces of these great ads still exist as photo negatives and prints, copy galleys and wax-backed blue-line layouts in the flat files of the agency.

The most likely fate of these rare pieces of GTO history was probably a short trip the local Oakland County incinerator or land fill. I would be very surprised to learn that any of this material survives today. The original photographic negatives exposed by the thousands every year to create these ads, brochures, posters, sales and service material may still exist at the agency or in one of Pontiac's warehouse storage vaults. Some of the original Van and Fitz paintings that were featured in over 200 4-color ads from the period covering the 1959 through 1971 time frame do exist.

Pontiac stored a large number of them for many years in a vault in their Pontiac, MI storage facilities. At one point the decision was made to divest themselves of the vast collection of artwork, and an auction was held. The paintings what weren't hanging on the office walls of Pontiac executives, or otherwise "loaned out" were unceremoniously passed into the hands of private collectors for a fraction of their true value. Their whereabouts today are largely unknown. One more haven that may have saved these valuable artifacts would be the print houses that produced the magazines. Not all paintings were returned to the ad agency after the images were published. Rumors abound that surviving original AF/VK ad art paintings have surfaced in the hands of former employees of these print houses.

Another item used by local newspapers, in conjunction with the local dealer, would be advertising slicks. These sheets of black and white art were printed on high-contrast, glossy stock paper for better photographic qualities, thus the descriptive term "slick." The ad agency would mail each dealer an Ad Planner packet. Packets varied from year to year, but for 1971 it consisted of a three-ring binder containing sections with suggested newspaper copy, sample ad layouts, KACS (Kwikee Auto Cut System) slick pages, radio scripts, TV ad packages, a Theater Screen Program for the local movie house, and outdoor display (billboard) offers. At the same time the local newspaper's advertising department would receive a copy of the same packet. The dealer could create his or her own ad, or have the local newspaper do the actual construction.

Press kits

In order for the various magazines to print accurate articles on the GTO, they needed to get the complete lowdown on the new car. Many facts and figures used in these articles were gleaned from an informational packet known as the Press Kit. Usually distributed at long lead press events, these kits contained press releases, black and white glossy photographic prints, color transparencies (slides) of those prints for color reproduction in the magazine story, facts sheets, and perhaps such items as full line sales brochures, color and interior folders, and options and accessories pamphlets.

Surviving press kits would most likely reside in the files of the magazine publishing archives or in the private files of the magazine article's writer. Press kits were also issued for select auto shows, and for special vehicle introductions. Pictured is a 1999 Pontiac GTO "concept car" press kit issued for the North American International Auto Show that took place in Detroit, Michigan in January 1999.

Mail-in promotions

At the bottom of many Pontiac ads that appeared in the enthusiast magazines between 1965 and 1970 is a line of copy that reads: "
Want 5 car pictures for your wall, complete specs and decals? Send 25 cents (35 cents outside the U.S.A.) to: 67 Wide-Tracks, P.O. Box 888F, 196 Wide-Track Blvd., Pontiac, Mich. 48056. Please include your zip code."

Today this address is no longer valid, but over thirty years ago the whole package came to your door rolled up in a sturdy mailing tube, and included the five lovely 26 x 11 1/2 color posters of that year's Pontiac performance machinery. Since many thousands of these poster sets were sent out to the Pontiac lovers of the time, originals do turn up from time to time. They are fairly expensive today. A complete set of mint posters, spec sheet, decals and the original mailing tube may change hands for EIGHT HUNDRED times the original purchase cost.

Other paper

To promote the impending unveiling of the new Wide-Track Pontiacs, dealers might have mailed out a special Announcement Invitation to recent new car buyers. These wedding-invitation-sized folders would include the introduction date (usually during the last week of September), an invite to attend the announcement showing weekend, and an imprint of the host dealer. Since these types of mailings, in most instances, would be considered "junk mail" by the former customers receiving them, samples are hard to locate today.

Next installment:
The continuation of this series will cover material most closely associated with the dealer's showroom floor and direct-mail sales programs.


 

Click on any Images If Below
to See them Full Size

The last panel of the 8-page 1965 Pontiac newspaper insert. This folder featured the entire Pontiac line-up.

Here is the clip-art image of the 1967 GTO Hardtop Coupe.

Another clip-art image, this one from the 1968 ad kit.

Here is a layout proposal for the '71 GTO. Dealers or local newspaper graphics departments could use these suggestions to help in assembling a newspaper ad placement.

This page offers is a color separation layout to be used in a two-color newspaper advertisement.

The cover of the 1999 Pontiac Concept GTO press kit. These kits contained a plastic sleeve holder containing 13 color slides to be used by magazines in the production of 4-color articles. Three multi-page, press releaes were also included.

The 2004 GTO press kit, now in the form of a CD ROM

2004 press kit CD holder and CD ROM index sheet.

As part of the mail-in poster offering, this poster ended up on the bedroom wall of many young dreamers and admirers in 1967.

The convertible poster. Note the wheels pictured here. This is very nearly the same image used in a magazine advertisement this year. The magazine ad photo featured Rally I wheels. The wheels in this poster were photo-retouched to resemble the Rally II wh

The third poster rounds out the trio for 1967.

A collection of three sticker sheets. Pictured from top to bottom; 1965, 1966 and 1968. These sheets were included with the poster offer package.

An example of the invitation that was mailed out by the dealer to recent customers, inviting them to attend the unveiling of the new Pontiacs. The upper portion of the photo shows the front and rear covers, the lower part shows the inside of the card.

On the left is the front and rear, and to the right is the inside of the '69 dealer invitation card.

The 1974 invitation card; the top shows the front and rear, the bottom shows the inside message.

 

 

 

 

 

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