“If you have an automobile, you look at life differently” – this claim from an Opel advertisement may sound touching in our world, but today’s empowerment wasn’t taken for granted in the 30s, back when the ad was published in a Romanian magazine. The car it promoted, Opel Olympia, is one of the models that contributed to GM’s recently announced record of 500 million units produced since 1908 – this milestone is even more impressive as no other automaker can look back at such production numbers. To mark this accomplishment, celebrations took place around the world, while for Romania it’s an opportunity to talk about GM brands’ historic presences in the country. As the communist period clouded most automotive culture and tradition, documents of the past are true revelations and both the public and journalists were impressed to see almost 80 years old local advertising pages from Cadillac, Chevrolet and Opel. Beyond the greater context, their value consists also in the fact that one can easily identify the key messages, promotion strategies or business models for each of the GM brands.
The Opel advertisements, for models such as Pullman (“A six places limousine with a driver place”, that needs to be “examined” in order for the client “to be convinced of its REAL qualities”) and Olympia (“You, too, can have a car”, “Travels anywhere in the country are now possible for you, too”, “A convenient car”), include without exception, in capital letters, that the products are either cars of General Motors, or “of the European division of the mondial company General Motors”.
The brand’s commitments to make available the most recent technology to the larger public and be rooted in the middle of society also go back to these press ads: “Opel Olympia is the ideal car for professionals and for those that love the healthy leisure of the week-end.”
THE STORY OF A PASSION
While the ads had set up the atmosphere for the #500MillionThanks celebration, the real products are the tangible proof of how durable they are, both in power of seduction and reliability. One exemplification is the long time passion for a 1938 Buick model that the president of Retromobil Club Romania, the classic cars association, developed as a child. Bogdan Coconoiu was fascinated by the tough detective’s car in the local police movies and later followed the model at any available event. This year, it was his turn to take his 1938 Buick to the road and, as a grown man, he made sure its first trip is no ordinary one.
Six cars produced between the two world wars embarked in a Tour of Romania that challenged the old timers with a 2,000 km adventure. The romantic trip was anything but old fashioned, as technology and social media communication made it possible for enthusiasts to meet and greet the caravan along the way, among them representatives of the largest Opel owners’ online community in the country, with more than 100.000 members.