Selling cars back in the late 1960s was a different proposition than today. Consumers’ tastes have shifted considerably and so has society. These Dodge White Hat Special commercials starring Joan Parker make that crystal clear. While they’re pretty campy, It’s a fun look back at a time now far in the past.
The genesis of these car commercials was Dodge looking to continue its sales streak it started in 1968. Excellent, attractive B-Body muscle cars and a “Run With the Scat Pack” marketing campaign drew a lot of shoppers to dealers.
To change things up, Dodge went with a tried-and-true method: sex sells. Recruiting Joan Parker, a brunette who looked like that attractive girl next door younger shoppers would immediately recognize, Dodge was able to effectively communicate its new messaging.
White Hat Specials were offered for Dodge Chargers, Coronets, Darts, Swingers, and more. To match that name, Joan Parker wore a white cowboy hat. Instead of going full Wild West, she was featured in a white mini dress and Go-Go boots, youthful attire for the time. It was all about capturing the young Baby Boomer market, like how everyone for a time obsessed over how to get Millennials to buy cars.
These White Hat Special models bundled together different options, including a nice vinyl roof, bumper guards, headrests, wheel covers, etc. Making the deal even sweeter, this bundle was priced competitively, almost like automakers back in the day understood that younger shoppers wanted a low-cost deal.
The campaign was a hit. Joan Parker was used not only in the string of TV commercials, her face was featured in print ads and she made special appearances at car shows and more. People liked her infectious smile and bubbly personality. She was the original Dodge Fever Girl, a woman people today remember fondly.
What most people don’t know was Parker beat out of field of more than 400 candidates who wanted to become Dodge’s spokesperson. Perhaps her experience playing a supporting role in the Adam West Batman movie helped her channel the kind of campiness Dodge wanted.
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