At first the Trans Am seems to be intimidating a stoplight in this Super Bowl XXXII spot from Pontiac, one of two in 1998 for the brand (see also "Coyote"), but eventually the car just destroys it. “The muscle car lives,” the voiceover concludes.
It was a message Pontiac’s target consumers needed to hear. Muscle cars in the United States more or less originated with General Motors’ Pontiac division, which in 1964 introduced the LeMans GTO-Gran Turismo Omologato. Described as a dragster with sports car handling, the GTO was the first of the era's muscle cars. Within two years, it became one of the hottest cars on the market and remained popular until the early 1970s. As smaller imports with better gas mileage pressured the U.S. auto industry to market more efficient models, however, even a brand associated with power began pursuing themes such as "More Pontiac excitement to the gallon" (a riff on its overall "We build excitement" campaign).
D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles handled the account throughout. (For a Super Bowl ad in which the traffic light outlasts the driver, see Ford Motor’s last-minute call-up “Green Light” in 2005.)
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