Iconic Ads: Roll Royce – “At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise..”

The iconic Rolls Royce advertising created by David Ogilvy

In 1958, the US had been enjoying a prosperous postwar era, with the automobile as the ultimate prestige symbol.

Rolls-Royce approached Ogilvy for advertising.

In order to sell a Rolls-Royce over other luxury options, Ogilvy needed to persuade buyers. All luxury cars claimed to be a luxury cars. They all claim to be quick, comfortable, and elegant.

Ogilvy wanted to advertise as the top luxury car. However, the new RR Silver Cloud II advertising had to stand out on its own. It resembled the RR Silver Cloud I. The advertisement had to describe and get another feature. Ogilvy spent three weeks doing “homework” on the product (RR-Silver Cloud II). His research includes other brands in the same category and their advertising. He read up on cars in magazines and books, and talked to engineers who worked on them. The title was inspired by a paragraph in one of the technical publications he read. This strategy helped him find out what customers wanted. Each consumer angst about luxury cars was examined and presented as a headline solution. The title needed to generate a response from the consumer.

Ogilvy noticed the commonalities in all of the luxury car options and looked for a distinguishing feature. A benefit that caught the audience’s eye. But what would the wealthy want most? He understood that an escape from the impoverished world is something that the upper crust craves – peace and quiet.

After 104 headlines for a Rolls Royce campaign, David Ogilvy came up with the masterpiece-

“At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.”

Rip Off/ Copy?

Ogilvy received a note from Charles Brower of Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn referring to a similar title he created for a Pierce-Arrow car commercial in 1933.

“The only sound you hear in a new Peirce Arrows is the ticking of an electric clock” 

Ogilvy maintained he was ignorant of the ad at the time and stole the headline from a British car magazine.

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1 Comment

  1. The Rolls’ price of $14,000 in 1958-9 was house money. The most popular Cadillacs cost around $6000 and the most expensive one, the limited-production Fleetwood Brougham $10,000.

    Ogilvy Rolls ads countered this by pitching styling that did not change annually, just as VW did at the other end of the market.

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