This site is dedicated to finding out what happens to old websites touted in car ds from the last 20 years or so. Perhaps the most quintessential tests of old URLs come from brands that are no longer sold in the United States, or no longer exist at all.
For today’s exercise, we’ll look at what General Motors is doing with the brands that it no longer builds. (Yes, I know GM isn’t the only company to drop brands — I’ll have more on other brands a little later (spoilers!) ).
Take, for example, this ad for Pontiac from December 2001:
It promises to give some lucky people the excitement (woot!) of a Grand Am! Or a Grand Prix! For a whole week!
And, down near the bottom of the text, the ad invites us all to “Pass it on at pontiac.com.”
Now, more than a decade later, I don’t know what happened to those fortunate few who enjoyed the excitement of a then-new Pontiac for a week.
However, we do know what happened to www.pontiac.com:
Looks pretty good to me. GM has obviously maintained the URL and are now using it to help past owners, as well as promoting current GM cars.
Good on them for not letting this iconic brand (and website) totally die.
Here’s an ad from July 2000 promoting the attributes of the 2001 Aurora to the rodent community:
Check out that sea of plastic in the center console! And down at the bottom of the ad is the obligatory link to oldsmobile.com.
Nowadays, that site brings up this:
There’s not much of a surprise here. Just like the Pontiac example above, GM is holding onto the domain and using it to promote its current lineup.
Not bad. However, it’s worth noting that the big text at the top of the site mentions Saturn (spoilers!), Hummer (more spoilers!) and Pontiac, but not Oldsmobile. That seems like a glaring omission to me.
Sticking with the dead GM brands, let’s head over to Hummer. Ah, yes, Hummer. Everyone’s favorite SUV to hate on. This particular yellow example can even traverse dark terrain on a dark night:
General Motors killed the Hummer brand in 2010. However, the company has plans to bring the name back as an electric truck under the GMC brand.
In fact, the company’s old website, hummer.com, is now used to promote that new truck:
By chance, I took a screengrab of hummer.com years ago (December 2015), when I first started this project:
As you can see, that site, like the other GM brand sites listed here, touts GM’s service and promotes other GM brands.
And we’re going to give a special nod to Hummer here because they are one of the few brands in which all of the ads that we found for Hummer (and there were A LOT of them) all consistently promoted hummer.com. They didn’t create random websites for new models, or special sections for special promotions. No. Every Hummer ad we found in this exercise pointed to simply hummer.com. That’s some good brand consistency, in my opinion.
Our last GM brand today takes us to Saturn:
And just look at that guy! Don’t you want to be him! He’s able to levitate keys like a sorcerer! And he casts a halo wherever he goes!
And he drives a Saturn VUE!
The ad, from May 2004, invites us to “See more at Saturn.com.” What do we actually see more than a decade later?
Yep, looks like the examples above.
The brand is gone. But the cars remain. And so does the website.
Once again, good job GM person who’s keeping these sites alive, even if the brands have long since disappeared.
(WAIT! ‘You forgot about a couple of other dead GM brands!,’ you might be thinking. Fear not. We’ll cover them in future articles.)