Advertising the MG Midget
In today’s world of automotive advertising, safety and performance are two of features that are showcased. Interestingly, the current marketing trend is not the first time that safety and performance were featured in automotive advertising. One of the most iconic slogans from the heyday of automotive advertising belonged to the MG, especially with MG Midget.
The slogan “Safety Fast!” is still known in the MG circles as the defining branding technique that made the MG Midget such a popular little car. The slogan was inspired by a bus in Oxford, England. The bus was embellished with a large red triangle that said, “Safety First!” to show that the bus has the latest in braking technology – four-wheel brakes. The publicity team thought the slogan would be clever if the word “First” was changed to “Fast.” They sold the idea to one of the original founders of the MG brand and it continued to be used throughout the life of the brand. In the 1960s, it was added to an advertisement for the MG Midget, “Safety Fast motoring is the safest of all.” In all of the ads, the “Safety Fast” slogan was set in a different typeface than the rest of the words.
Playing on the Rebels
The “Safety Fast” slogan lasted for several decades, from the 1930s to the 1960s. By the time the 1960s were coming to a close, MG tried to appeal to the mass with “Sport the real thing.” This one did not last long as the 1970s ushered in a decade that saw more interest in rebelling. The 1970s slogan became “Your mother wouldn’t like it.” The brilliance in this slogan lies in what it does not say, especially in regards to “it.” Is “it” the car? The driver? Or what can happen in the car? Eventually, this slogan turned into “You can do it in an MG” – again, another slogan with a mysterious “it.”
It seemed that the marketing strategists who worked for MG in the mid-century were clearly aware that sex sells. The innuendos of the “it” advertisements were beginning to hint subtly at sex. Eventually, the MG Midget publicity teams decided to go all out and make the claim that “85% of Midget owners are men.” While the slogan itself is not very sexy, the image they paired with the slogan was. The advertisement featured a beautiful woman reclining in her seat while holding on to the handbrake. Despite the fact that she is dressed in virginal white, the woman has a seductive look on her face as she holds tightly to the handbrake. Maybe she is longing to be one of the 15% of women who own the car or maybe she is waiting for her man to get in and drive? Regardless of the intent of the advertisement and image, it is clear that the MG advertisements were just as cool as the cars they sold.