Iconic Advertising Slogans by Dodge

Like any major business that’s been around throughout the evolution of television advertising, Dodge has been on the point of many trends and gimmicks over the decades. At the same time, they’ve also set an advertising tone that challenges other manufacturers to try and keep up. Whether you’re a young buck or an ol’ timer, you’re bound to remember at least a few of these Dodge advertising slogans over the past five decades.

Through the years the ads have definitely improved from a timeless, artistic aspect; however the older ads definitely transport you back to a simpler time, both in the car world and in American history.

1. Dependability, The Dependables. (1920s–1967)

Capitalizing on their reputation, the Dodge Brothers used their name, “Dodge Brothers” followed by “Reliable, Dependable, Sound” to market their products. Devoted Dodge customers raved about the rugged construction, quality, and power of their vehicles. Buyers consistently commented that this was a car that could be depended upon. In a Dodge marketing stroke of genius, Theodore MacManus coined the word “dependability.” Dodge was using the term in advertising from around 1914, and by the 1930’s, the word was appearing in dictionaries, and soon found its way into common, everyday usage.

Dodge-Dependability

2. Dodge Fever. (1968–1969)

It was the fall of 1967, and for the 1968 model year, Dodge introduced the all-new second-generation Charger that was an instant hit with car buyers and would eventually become an iconic symbol of the muscle car era. In 1968, Dodge started the successful Dodge Fever campaign. A prospective buyer could check off the desired performance options when ordering a new Dodge, work out the terms for a manageable down payment and monthly installments, and drive out with one of the bumblebee striped Dodges. If a twin tail striped Charger R/T was purchased, the new owner now owned one of the “five from the hive” Dodges, which included the Swinger 340, Dart 340 GTS, Coronet R/T, Super Bee, and the Charger R/T. Picking up one of these Dodges authorized the owner to “Run with the Dodge Scat Pack,” which was always a cure for the fever.

Dodge Fever ad

3. Dodge White Hat Specials (late 1960s)

Banking on the height of the popular spaghetti westerns of the late 1960′s, Dodge launched the 1969 “White Hat Special” editions of their lineup. Named after the old Roy Rodgers maxim that, “The good guys wore the white hats,” the White Hat Specials were more about the look and comfort than say, the more performance heavy R/T packages. Vinyl tops, seats, light packages, wheel covers, and remote-controlled side-view mirrors were par for the course. The White Hat Special package was also made available on Darts, Polaras, and Coronets in addition to the sporty Chargers.

Dodge White Hat Specials

4. You Could be Dodge Material. (1970–1971)

Advertising has changed a lot over the years, but it doesn’t even feel like too long ago that this commercial for the 1970 Dodge Charger 500 was airing on the networks. Nowadays, though, a spot like this ends up being more hilarious than most of the ads that are intentionally funny. In this spot, you can see for yourself just how attractive the 1970 Dodge Charger really was. So much so that it could change your whole image, therefore causing you to leave your lady stranded on the beach.

5. That Thing Gotta Hemi?

The actor Jon Reep launched his career by uttering, “That thing got a Hemi?” in a Dodge Ram television ad. In the video, we see two scuzzy dudes in a scuzzy Plymouth Duster. They stop at a light and find themselves next to a gleaming Dodge Ram pickup—which in turn tows behind it a gorgeous, vintage Dodge Charger. The scuzzy passenger leans out of his window and asks, “Hey, that thing got a Hemi?” The Ram owner answers, “Yeah.” The scuzzy driver says, “Sweeeeeeeeeeeet,” and revs his engine. Cue green light. The pickup waxes the scuzzmobile. At the next light, the Ram driver turns to the Plymouth. “Did you mean the Charger?” he asks. ” ‘Cause, you know that’s got a Hemi, too.”

That Thing Gotta Hemi?

6. An American Revolution. (1982–1989)

If George Washington drove back in the 1700s, he would be driving a Dodge Challenger. At least that’s what a new commercial wants you to think. A running commercial for the Challenger, which debuted during the World Cup, shows Washington scaring off the Redcoats in the muscle car, effectively winning the American Revolution.

An American Revolution Dodge ad

7. The Pride is Back (1980)

Lee Iacocca saves Chrysler. Reeling from the combined effects of a recession and a global energy crisis, in 1979 Chrysler was forced to seek government loan guarantees. Meanwhile, Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca took the company’s case straight to the people in a series of television commercials. Looking straight into the camera, the legendary auto executive pitched the company’s new K-cars with total conviction, asserting, “America, if you can find a better car, buy it.”

Buyers took up Iacocca’s challenge, flocking to the showrooms to buy their own K-cars. Nearly one million Aries were sold (and another million Reliants), allowing Chrysler to pay off its loans a full seven years early. Soon Iacocca was back on the airwaves with another ad campaign. This one was called “The Pride Is Back.”

The Pride is Back Dodge ad

8. The New Dodge. (1992–2000)

In 1992, Dodge moved their performance orientation forward substantially with the Viper and all Dodge cars and trucks were shown in bright red ads. This was the first step in what was marketed as “The New Dodge”, which was an aggressive advertising campaign with a litany of new models, with television ads that pointed out the innovations in the vehicles and challenged their competitors.

The New Dodge

9. Dodge. Different. (2000–2001)

“The New Dodge” signature was replaced by “Dodge Different”. Dodge found the way to success was to offer products that were bolder and more exciting than its competitors. In other words, by being different. It was the largest and most comprehensive print and television campaign in the company’s 85-year history.

Dodge Different

10. Grab Life By The Horns. (2001–2007, mainly for Dodge truck market)

The slogan “Grab life by the horns” started appearing in Dodge commercials in 2001.

Grab Life By The Horns Dodge logo

11. Grab life. (2007 – mid-June 2010, in Ram pickup truck ads)

The whole idea of ‘Grab Life’ as opposed to ‘Grab Life by the Horns’ kind of disenfranchises it from the Dodge Ram. The slogan shift was planned by Dodge to coincide with its car sales growth. The automaker is rolling out cars to circumvent the declining sales of pickups due to the volatile gasoline prices. If they cut off ‘by the horns,’ you’re less likely to think Ram and more likely to think maybe a Caliber or Avenger.

12. Never neutral. (2010–present)

The 2012 Dodge Charger advertisement called Never Neutral takes a swing at one of the major issues of the car industry: their tendency to take out driver involvement on the actual act of driving. The Never Neutral commercial says that the new model will always be an alternative to hands free driving, cars that park themselves, and to the unmanned car driven by a search engine company. In essence, the main point of Dodge’s new TV spot is to say that the 2012 Charger is a car made for driving, and for being driven in.

Dodge Charger Never Neutral

13. Guts. Glory. Ram. (2010–present, Ram Truck division)

“Guts. Glory. Ram,” with an old western theme—a perfect setting for what Ram suggests its brand portrays. Of course, the only forms of transportation back then consisted of horses, trains and wagons, but the spots foster the idea that if an automobile existed during these times of courageousness and survival, it would be the Ram pickup.

Guts. Glory. Ram.

14. Wisdom (2014, commemorating Dodge’s 100-year anniversary )

In “Wisdom,” commemorating the century mark of the Dodge brand, a one-minute spot honored centenarians who laughed heartily and grinned big in front of the camera while handing out timely nuggets of wisdom on life and fast cars. “Live for now … Because life is good, you make it good.” Each person from the era when Dodge Brothers was still independent was identified by name and their birth year. The theme was simple but earnest: “You learn a lot in a hundred years … Here’s to the next hundred. Born Dodge.” So, here’s to putting the pedal to the metal … and never, ever forgetting where we came from. “Wisdom” was named 2015’s Automotive Ad of the Year during the 10th Nielsen Global Automotive Advertising Awards.

Wisdom (Dodge 100)

15. Born Dodge. (2014–present)

The Dodge car brand turned 100 years old in 2014. For this they released special 100th anniversary edition cars, re-designed the Charger and Challenger and released this epic commercial. Featuring timeless advice from people who’ve been around as long (or nearly as long) as the Dodge brand itself.

Born Dodge

16. Domestic. Not Domesticated. (2016–present)

The tagline, “Domestic. Not Domesticated.” aims to capture the passion and attitude of Dodge. ‘Domestic. Not Domesticated.’ means that Dodge vehicles can handle grocery runs and recital pickups just as well as they can handle laps around the race track. You don’t have to sacrifice pleasure for practicality. You can have both.

Domestic. Not Domesticated. Dodge

 

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About Reed Brothers

I am a co-owner of the former Reed Brothers Dodge in Rockville, Maryland. Lewis Reed, the founder of Reed Brothers Dodge was my grandfather. We were a family-owned and operated car dealership in Rockville for almost a century. I served in the United States Air Force for 30 years before retiring in the top enlisted grade of Chief Master Sergeant in July 2006. In 2016, I received the Arthur M. Wagman Award for Historic Preservation Communication from Peerless Rockville for documenting the history of Reed Brothers Dodge in both blog and book format. This distinguished honor recognizes outstanding achievement by writers, educators, and historians whose work has heightened public awareness of Rockville’s architectural and cultural heritage, growth and development.

One response to “Iconic Advertising Slogans by Dodge”

  1. Jonathan B. Richards II says :

    Hello Ms. Jeanne Gartner , and Happy April Fools Day. Your essay today entitled “Iconic Advertising Slogans by Dodge” is a real gem. I am sharing this with my youngest son who is an advertising agency producer in Des Moines , Iowa. He will appreciate the quality and imagination that went together over the many decades to put the Dodge motor cars and trucks front and center in the consciousness of the American public. Sincerely, Jonathan Richards.

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