GM's Xenophobic Paranoia Couldn't Save Pontiac

Illustration for article titled GMs Xenophobic Paranoia Couldnt Save Pontiac

Pontiac produced this xenophobic video 40 years ago to scare the crap out of its assembly line workers and encourage them to "show up to work each day" to build quality automobiles. It didn't work.


"Today, the national figure is 170 out of each 1,000 cars. And we sure do worry about it." That's the lead line of this xenophobic video designed to motivate Pontiac assembly line workers to do their best to boost quality of the Pontiacs they produce — and blunt the German and Japanese invaders looking to sell higher quality cars stateside.

An ominous voice-over intones of the Volkswagen, Toyota and Datsun cars that are coming to our shores from far-away lands and stealing away Pontiac's customers. It's enough to give anyone the willies and make them angry with the foreigners for stealing our hard-earned American jobs. The video does make clear, however, that "they are not the enemy! They are the competition."


We all know who the enemy is. It's the unions! So, despite the "we're all in this together" mentality - on the surface - the video is rife with "us vs. them," with Pontiac subversively trying to undermine the union.

That said, if we all work together (and actually show up for work), we can beat these invaders and keep building the best cars in the country. "We can compete! If we can count on you, we won't have to count foreign cars. That's how important you are. Americans love Pontiacs. They know American cars have the room and safety and convenience that is needed on the American road."

Sadly, although they had the room, the safety and the convenience needed on the American road, they didn't have the fuel economy or the styling. And now, despite the video's "we haven't lost yet!" motto, Pontiac's dead. Did the American work ethic die with it?


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Patrick George

@5:50: "We cannot hope for the government to save us."