When the internet was still young and gaining traction in 2003, a popular magazine - Automobile - reported on "an enormous stock" (see arrow in page-shot below) of newly uncovered U.S. auto scene documents and historical photos being posted online for the first time.
Attracting attention in the public and the media, the carofthecentury.com website created a solid online fan base by doing something different.
IBD Leaders & Success newspaper article below features carofthecentury.com as the source.
This 6-min video clip gives a glimpse of the Harley Earl advertising campaign that kicked off in the Sept., 2002. The clip includes a mini-documentary on why we created the campaign using modern pitchman Tiger Woods, who stared in all of the initial TV ads (Woods was marketing gold then) to be the living Buick spokesman alongside a ghost of Harley Earl.
After which Harley Earl's name and look-a-like actor, John Diehl, started popping up on TV in Buick ads in 2002, helping our new website become successful surpassing 500,000 unique visitors in its first three years. Provided at this site, the audience started rallying around seeing all new information allowing them to find out all about the true side of Detroit's greatest leadership/success story.
So carofthecentury.com, notice above and below screenshots, was aimed to give car lovers and members of the auto journalistic community a look at GM's modern A-team business players of the mid-twentieth century era. Why? Simply put, these leaders were essentially GM's authentic true heroes who created a winning dynasty of consumer products using Design & Technology as their sword of power vaulting General Motors to the top of the business world. And, long after these leaders died, their efforts had cemented GM near a 50% market share for decades of time.
With over a 1000 historical photos and countless vintage auto news articles carofthecentury.com gave car lovers and media members just what they wanted (many photos were in living color and this online portal displayed newspaper stories demonstrating GM's amazing fact sheet and/or mid-twentieth century track record as well as some hard to find reel footage clips, too). So, word traveled fast and people kept coming back because they became accustomed to seeing GM's champion players (exemplary leaders) rise up off the online pages of this new website. Visitors sat back in the comfort of their home or office and dreamed about the good old days when America's winning identity was often associated with owning or driving a GM car designed by Harley Earl and team.
Naturally, in most people's minds, the website caused a visceral knee-jerk reaction, Why can't the American auto industry's leaders buck this near 50 year losing streak and turn things around?
Although carofthecentury.com was successful, it had its share of controversy; see news stories below.
Emperor's New Cloths
Never had this insightful quote by Harley Earl, directly below, been brought out of mothballs leading up to GM's 2009 bankruptcy:
"It is a matter of record that poor styling or improperly timed styling has proved financially disastrous to some automobile manufacturers."
Apparently, from the 1980s all the way into the new century, GM's top execs didn't wish to understand and/or even know much about any of Harley Earl's leadership quotes. Of course the irony of this kind of denial or oversight is the No. 1 reason why General Motors (and everything attached to it in and around America's auto industry) experienced an epic gut wrenching fall from grace.
Notice a short article, written by Harley Earl entitled Growing Stops For Automobiles, displayed further up inside the carofthecentury.com screenshot.
Plus, here's two different Michigan journalists chiming in on why GM was in hot water (in 2005/06):