Dead salesman don't wear plaid Or do they? Apparently Republic Industries Inc.'s AutoNation mega-car dealership has stirred up a storm of polyester with its launch of a massive advertising campaign in Denver—estimated at $2.5 million a month—that pokes fun at an ages-old stereotype.
According to our sister publication, Automotive News, in commercials, AutoNation characterizes independent car dealers as plaid-jacketed hucksters. The ads feature ``the guys in plaid''—two fictional high-pressure car salesmen in plaid suits who devise gimmicks and jingles to compete with AutoNation's low prices.
AutoNation—which said it will not drop the commercials—has bought out a number of independent car dealerships, including one formerly owned by Denver Broncos star quarterback John Elway, who appeared in one commercial promising ``lower prices and higher standards.''
And boy, are car dealers—and the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA)—ticked off. NADA has spearheaded a new, non-profit organization meant to improve the image of car dealers and, surprisingly, Republic has contributed funds to it.
``The guys in plaid are supposed to be representative of every other dealer but them,'' said John Schenden, president of Pro Chrysler-Plymouth-Jeep in Denver and president of the Metro Denver Automobile Dealers Association. ``That incenses the hell out of me and the other dealers. I've got the best sales satisfaction ratings of any other dealer my size in the region.''
``Unfortunately, Republic sees fit to recall all the old stereotypes of yesteryear,'' said Bill Barrows, president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association. ``It's causing a pretty big rift between Republic Industries and the rest of the dealers.''
The funny part is, Automotive News ran a photo of a car salesman grousing about the commercials, and guess what kind of jacket he was wearing?
This 'n that
Overheard in the halls—By now most people are familiar with the tentative agreement announced between Goodyear and Japan's Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd., which will give Goodyear control over Dunlop tire operations in North America. We hear some Goodyear employees are referring to the deal as ``Sum Dun Good.'' If it works out as hoped, sounds like, pardon our English, all done good.
Justice—We couldn't help ourself. It was awful hard to stifle a snicker while driving home the other day. Along the roadside, stuck in mud almost up to its wheel wells, was a police cruiser. Inside, looking none too happy, was the man in blue who had been running radar. 10-4 good buddy!
It wasn't even yellow—Vanity license plate spotted in the Cleveland area on a late-model Buick: ``My Lemon.''
Bugs or wood?—The marquee on a Holiday Inn near Akron read, ``Welcome Mesquito Control.'' Since mesquite trees aren't native to northeast Ohio, we presume it was referring to the pesky, blood-sucking insects. Cain't anyone spel aneymor?
A milestone—On the occasion of his recent 81st birthday, we'd like to salute our writing coach and mentor, Mickey Spillane, master of the detective novel genre who taught us guys all about how to say dat dem tire makers makes dese tires, see? Den dey sells dem to dose dealers. An' dats how dey do it. Thanks, Mick.
Bucket 'o lead—A guy in Spring Hill, Tenn., who was apparently having car trouble, parked his Olds by the side of a road, grabbed his AK-47 and pumped three 30-round clips into it. Guess it wasn't his father's Oldsmobile. (He was busted, by the way.)
Wham, blam...thank you, m'am—On the brain power scale of one to 10, they'd rate about a three: Two women in Kansas City received superficial burns when an air mattress they were inflating exploded. They used a can of flammable tire sealant to repair a leak, then tried to inflate the mattress with an electric air compressor. That probably caused a spark, which ignited the tire goo.
Visitors to Pirelli North America's ``home page'' on its Internet site—www.pirelli.com—can get news about its motorsports conquests, the technological agreement the tire maker recently signed with Michelin, a strategic alliance it inked with Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., and other info.
They also can take a gander at Pirelli's calendar which, at times, seems more famous than its tires. Clicking on a photo (at right) of a sultry model sprawled on a sofa links to a month-by-month view of the latest calendar girls, wearing scant little—not even a smile. But rest assured, the home page has a graphic prominently boasting: ``Net Nanny approved—this site is safe for kids.'' So remember kids, nudity is not naughty if done ``tastefully.'' Hmm.
An offer he couldn't refuse
An item in the Louisiana Independent Tire Dealers Association's newsletter noted that Bill Simon, owner of Simple Simon Tires in Baton Rouge, La., found out there's more money in drugs than in tires. Legal drugs, it quickly added.
The giant Rite-Aid Drug chain, which in 1998 purchased Louisiana's K&B Drug Stores, wanted a location where Mr. Simon had a store. So they gave him a cool $2.3 million, and will tear down his buildings. Meanwhile, he's expanding another of his stores.
He doesn't sound too simple, does he?