A Tale Of Two Buicks

I’m often amused, as I write these articles, when I come across a model (or brand) that no longer exists. Such examples can give us a little bit of insight into how the company maintains its brand strategy.

Today we’ll look at ads for two such models, both from Buick.

Buick has abandoned the sedan market entirely for the United States (a trend that’s becoming increasingly popular among companies) choosing instead to only sell SUVs here in the States, while saving the sedans for other markets, like China.

We’ll start with the older ad in the group, for the Buick Century:

Buick ad from August 1997

The two-page spread above appeared in an August 1997 magazine and featured Buick’s mid-size sedan.

The headline of the ad reads, “Everything will be better in this Century.” I get the play on words, sure. But, no, things were not better in the 20th Century, or the 1997 Buick Century. Progress is a good thing, and cars are just one example where things keep getting better and better all the time.

Whatever. We don’t need to get that political on this site.

What we DO need to do is talk about websites. This ad features a lovely relic of the ’90s down at the bottom of the teeny-tiny text:

I’m going to assume the www text was added there so it was clear to novice users of the Internet that this was a reference to a site on the world-wide web (and not just a mistake because back then some people may have thought that all web addresses always required www?).

In case it wasn’t obvious already, this is an example of a custom subdomain. Let’s ignore the www part of the address for now. In this case, Buick.com is the domain (which is still a valid site today, of course). When you have something other than www before the domain, like Century.Buick.com in this case, this is referred to as a subdomain. We’ve seen subdomains before, and we’ll see more again in future articles, though they’re not all that common.

So, while Buick no longer makes the Century, what happened to the subdomain?

Well, that’s not great. Setting up a subdomain is very easy and costs the company virtually nothing. It’s not like a primary domain that needs to be renewed each year or so.

True, Buick no longer makes the Century, but that doesn’t mean Century.Buick.com can’t click through to the Buick.com homepage, or through to the company’s mid-size SUV, the Envision. There might be some SEO hit for linking to a homepage or a different model, but it wouldn’t be huge. And it likely would be simpler than creating a custom page for the dead model (though that would be best for SEO).

Okay, let’s dig up another dead model from Buick, the LeSabre:

Buick ad from December 1998

I contemplated using the dog in this ad as the featured image on the homepage of the site. Who wouldn’t want to click on a cute doggy?!

Once you get past that big fluffy ball of cute cuteness, there’s some text Buick wants you to read in the lower left. Embedded among that text is another website that starts with an unnecessary www:

Once again, we’ll let the irrelevant www slide (though, yes, sometimes (rarely) some sites need the www in front of them — it all depends on how the domain name server (DNS) is set up).

But what about the site itself?

Ugh. Again with the dead link.

Yeah, yeah, Buick no longer makes the LeSabre. But it would be so much better to link to something, preferably a heritage page for the LeSabre, but I believe anything would be better than nothing when it comes to preserving the legacy of long-gone models.

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