A couple of articles ago, we talked about the marketing desire to come up with a unique URL to promote some new car. It’s a way to showcase the new car by itself on its own merits and, potentially, separate the new car from any emotional baggage customers may have with the main brand.
I don’t know the exact rationale behind today’s list of old websites but back in the day Pontiac, the now-defunct division of General Motors, came up with several model-specific domains to promote some of their new cars, instead of just directing people to Pontiac.com.
This kind of thing can be tricky to maintain long-term for any brand, but it’s particularly challenging for a brand that no longer exists. While it’s relatively easy (and a no-brainer) to keep Pontiac.com alive (as we’ve seen previously), what happens to these orphan URLs for specific cars that are no longer made? That’s what we will check today.
Let’s start with a car that still turns my head every time I see one on the road: The Pontiac GTO. To promote the brand’s re-imagined (and Holden-based) muscle car, Pontiac ran this 8-page ad, the last page of which features a nice set of 11s on the pavement, and a reference to simply gto.com.
There’s no more Pontiac and there are no new GTOs being made. But what about gto.com? Well….
The screen capture above is from June 24, 2020. Checking whois.com shows that General Motors still owns the gto.com domain. Too bad they’re not doing anything with it.
Next up, we have an ad from January 2005 for Pontiac’s then-new mid-size offering, the G6. My sister had one of these back in the day. It was, well, perfectly fine, I guess.
To promote the G6, Pontiac didn’t go with something simple like G6.com (would that have even been available?). Instead, they touted the fact that this is THE FIRST-EVER G6 (and, as it turned out, it was the last, too). Down in the bottom right-corner, we’re supposed to go visit FirstEverG6.com.
What happens when we try to do that today, more than a decade later?
The screen you see above is a standard page-not-found error I often see as my internet service provider tries to be helpful with some list of possibly related links whenever the desired URL doesn’t work.
The reality is that FirstEverG6.com is currently available for anyone who wants to purchase it. I don’t need it, but if someone buys it up and does something interesting with it, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Digging a little older into my archives, we find this ad featuring the special 40th Anniversary edition of the Pontiac Grand Prix. (My sister had one of these, too, now that I think about it. It was dark green.)
This special edition Grand Prix had special appearance bits and distinct leather interior. In late 2001, you could find out more about it at GrandPrix40th.com.
Today, the site hasn’t fared as well as the Grand Prix at 40:
Once again we get the error page that my service provider generates because, once again, the domain GrandPrix40th.com is completely unregistered and available for the taking.
I didn’t buy it, either.
How about this ad from July 2000 to promote Pontiac’s “Solid Commitment” program? Instead of a rebate or sweet financing deal, Pontiac basically covered all maintenance plus gave the buyer a decent warranty.
It might be worth noting (and maybe not?) that this two-page ad wasn’t a typical two-page spread. The first page asking about commitment was on the right-hand side of the magazine. Turn the page and on the left (back of the page) we got all the details about the program.
And for more details on that program, we’re supposed to “check the ‘Net’ at grandam.com.” The tiny print shown above is at the bottom of the second page but I included it here because it just sounds so antiquated these days to “check the Net.”
Today, we get this:
This is a different kind of error page than what we’ve seen earlier. I’m not sure how my Internet Service Provider determines whether to deliver its “pretty” error page, or let the browser display this more generic error.
It may have something to do with whether the domain is actually registered already. As it turns out, whois.com shows that General Motors still owns the grandam.com domain. Why not do something with it? Who knows.
(And, YES! My sister had one of these too! She was on a Pontiac kick for about a decade there.)
Last up for today is an old ad from November 1999. Back then, the biggest Pontiac was the Bonneville.
To promote the tenth (and subsequently final) version of the Bonneville, there was this ad that referenced Bonneville2000.com down in the bottom middle of the two-page spread.
This type of URL has two strikes going against it. Not only is it specific to a car that is no longer made, it is also specific to one model year for the car. Is there really much value to GM in such a dated URL? Let’s see:
Ugh. Here’s the now familiar Suddenlink-trying-to-be-helpful error page. And, yes, as we’ve seen with the other ads, Bonneville2000.com is currently available if anyone wants it. If someone reading this buys it up, please comment below as I’d love to see what you do with it.