1969 Oldsmobile “W-Machines” Marketing Strategy
One of the most successful marketing campaigns was Oldsmobile’s “Dr. Oldsmobile” theme which debuted in 1968. It involved fictional characters created to promote the 1969 W-30, W-31 and W-32 options available on the wildly popular Cutlass ‘S’ and 442 muscle cars. An 8-page spread shot in black and white featured a tall lean mad scientist type named “Dr. Olds” who wore a white lab coat. His assistants included “Elephant Engine Ernie” who represented the placement of the big block 455 Rocket engine, “Shifty Sidney” who developed the smoothest shifters this side of an automatic, “Wind Tunnel Waldo” who scientifically placed the large induction air scoops where they did some good, “Esses Fernhill” who relentlessly tested and perfected the FE-2 underpinnings and “Hy Spy” who kept an ear to the ground and an eye in the sky for Dr. Oldsmobile, keeping him ahead of the competition. The campaign was a huge success and helped with the launching of 442 W-30 speed parts. Oldsmobile continued this campaign into 1972 until the newly enforced smog regulations drove manufacturers into lowering horsepower ratings. Today these “W-Machine” muscle cars are highly collectible as are the promotional memorabilia that paved the roads to their success.