Previously, we wrote about four General Motors brands that are no longer around. However, kudos to GM for preserving their URLs. Each old site URL now points to a page that is relevant to the old brand and promotes other GM products. That’s proper site management from my perspective.
Today, we’re going to look at another four brands that are no longer sold in the United States. Since we left off with Saturn in the GM article, it seems only appropriate to start this post with another planet:
What makes a car a “luxury car” these days? Think about it. Is it a leather interior? Power seats? Power windows? Cruise control? Unique styling? More power? Before the 1990s, yes, those things would typically only be found in cars considered “luxury cars.”
But somewhere in the ’90s, things started to shift. High-end models of mainstream brands like Ford and Chevrolet started offering similar features previously only found on their more “luxurious” makes.
Heck! You can get leather seats in a Honda Fit these days, the cheapest car Honda sells.
As the definition of “luxury” starts becoming more ambiguous, what is a manufacturer like Ford supposed to do? Back in the day (looking at you, 1950), the Fords were the “everyman” cars, while the Lincoln brand was the high-end luxury brand. Mercury was slotted between the two to provide a semi-luxury product.
With Ford models becoming more upscale, the distinction between Ford and Mercury became more blurry (not to mention the badge engineering between the two that made some models from the two brands nearly indistinguishable). Ultimately, in 2010, Ford pulled the plug on Mercury and now the brand is dead.
One of the clearest examples of badge engineering is the Mercury Sable, which is essentially a Ford Taurus with just a few modifications.
You can see the similarities between the two cars in this ad from February 1997:
Wow! Sedan or Wagon at the same price! How cool!
(Unrelated: I’m not normally a fan of serif fonts, but I’m kinda digging the title font on this ad!)
And, at the bottom, we’re encouraged to visit mercuryvehicles.com. At the time, this was a pretty standard site that appeared across several ads.
Where does it go today?
Not bad, Ford. Not bad at all.
As you can see, mercuryvehicles.com now takes you to a nice Ford page acknowledging the existence of Mercury and promoting Ford and Lincoln vehicles as new alternatives. This is proper web management.
Okay, Isuzu isn’t entirely out of the U.S. market. They still sell box trucks and other commercial vehicles here. However, there was a day, many years ago, when Isuzu sold cars and SUVs (and then only SUVs) on these shores.
For today, here’s an ad from late 2000 that tried to entice buyers to choose an Isuzu SUV because they could then get a free Gateway computer, too!
Just check out those computer specs! A 6.5 gigabyte hard drive! A 500 megahertz processor! And 64 megabytes of RAM! And is that a 17-inch CRT monitor included?? Or maybe it’s only 15 inches?
Sorry. Let’s get back to the cars and websites. Back in the day, you could have looked up isuzu.com on that snazzy new ‘puter of yours. I’m sure it was full of wonderful information about the latest offerings from Isuzu.
Today, however, things are a little different:
As mentioned above, Isuzu still sells commercial trucks here, so it’s no surprise that the site is now dedicated to that branch of the business. But there is a quadrant reserved for “Light Vehicles” featuring an Isuzu Ascender (which isn’t even actually a real Isuzu, by the way — it’s a badge-engineered GM SUV).
That link takes you to http://www.isuzulv.com/, which has some basic information about driving and using Isuzu SUVs, but is pretty thin in terms of actual vehicle information.
So is this good website management? Yes and no. Sure, Isuzu’s money now comes from commercial sales so it makes sense to use the site to promote that arm of the business. But it would have been nice to see a little more effort put into the consumer vehicles. There’s scant actual information and the only 100% Isuzu vehicle I saw on the site was the Axiom. It’s disappointing that there’s nothing about the rest of the historic Isuzu lineup like the Stylus, Impulse and Rodeo, just to name a few.
Toyota’s short-lived “youth-oriented” brand brought us such great cars as the xB and the FR-S. But it also had some less memorable moments with cars like the xD and tC.
Maybe this is interesting and maybe not, but I never found any Scion ads in any of the magazines I went through that had a website listed. I know! This whole site is about URLs in print, but Scion was doing things differently back in the day (come to think of it, I don’t know that I saw any Scion ads in the magazines at all).
However, Scion did have marketing campaigns outside of the magazines I went through. I found some ads in Toyota press releases when I started this project a few years ago. Checking now (in 2020), those press releases are no longer on the Toyota Newsroom site. It’s a good thing I took screengrabs before they went away.
For example, there’s this ad for Scion’s “What moves you” campaign (from 2012, which is more recent than most of the ads on this site but still relevant):
And, down there at the bottom, we’re invited to “Get the Scion story at Scion.com:”
(I apologize for the small size of these graphics. This was an image I pulled from the Toyota Newsroom site and not a print ad that I scanned. Typically, when scanning ads, I make an effort to scan the images at a much higher resolution.)
These days, that site takes you to a Toyota page that honors the Scion brand and encourages visitors to check out equivalent new Toyota cars instead. Excellent work, Toyota! Turn that old asset into something useful and engaging years later. I like it.
Finally today, we have Suzuki, another brand that is gone from the U.S. market but still sells power-sports products here and cars elsewhere.
For this ad from June 2000, we see that the Suzuki Grand Vitara is at least as fast as a cheetah. That’s not really saying much as a cheetah tops out at about 60 miles per hour and that’s a speed attainable by pretty much every car on the highway these days.
But that’s okay. What we really care about here is the site listing. Just above the small print disclaimers at the bottom, we see a reference to www.suzuki.com.
Fast forward a few years (haha! Get it? Fast forward? Fast, like a cheetah? Nevermind.) and here’s where that URL goes:
There’s no big surprise here as Suzuki is still selling motorbikes and other outdoorsy things these days. I do think it’s worth noting that their “Automotive” link on the page specifically mentions “Parts and Warrant Services” so as not to lead people into thinking you can get a new Swift or Jimny on these shores.