Rob Walker and "Mr Quiet-Man"

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R.R.C. Walker replies to the letter in last month’s issue:—

There seems to be some indignation over the “Ford quieter than the Jaguar” advertisement that I did and certain readers feel that I have hurt Jaguar’s name, sold the Country down the river and tarnished my own good name.
Although I am deeply grateful that anyone takes the trouble to be concerned about this affair, and my name in particular, I am sure that all the abuse or alarm would have been allayed had those concerned been put in the picture. I do not mean literally put in the picture as there would not have been room for everybody and the cars as well; but had they known the true facts as they were explained to Jaguar, I think opinions would be altered. In fact, Jaguars wrote me an extremely friendly and polite letter saying that “the advertisements are likely to do much more good than harm to their interests.” As far as the Country is concerned, I think the politicians are so busy selling each other down the river that it doesn’t matter about anybody else. But let me tell you the story about how it all happened and you can judge for yourselves.

It was early in September when I received a telegram in Majorca, where I was staying at my brother-in-law’s farm, from J. Walter Thompson, the Ford advertising agents, asking me if I was interested in doing a television commercial and some stills for Fords. I replied that I was interested but would like to know the details. Whereupon they telegrammed to say that they wanted to send the Ford Quiet Man over to Europe to test the Ford models against the top quality European saloons for quietness and in a suitable English setting. I suggested that they made their test against my Facel Vega and that they used my mother’s rather beautiful Elizabethan house at Stockton, which has been made over to me, as the venue, and all this was agreed. They had already arranged a similar agreement with Lord Bath using a Mark 10 Jaguar at his home at Longleat.

In the middle of September a party of 28 people arrived, having flown from America. They consisted of film directors, advertising agents, camera men, sound directors, one of the best known still photographers in America and the famous Quiet Man who came from Hollywood. I did not know that they had any of this breed in Hollywood, but I suppose if you are a good actor you can be anything. Besides these, there were also two officials from the A.A.A. who had a decibel machine and were going to do unbiased sound recordings at speeds of 20, 40 and 60 m.p.h. and they certainly knew their job, because everything on the car had to be checked against the catalogue specification; tyre wear, pressures, etc., all recorded and identical pieces of road used for each vehicle before they would make their recordings.

Two of the film directors, Robert Yung and Findlay Hunt, came to visit me at my home in Somerset and give me the layout. They said that they were in slight difficulties over which car I used because the Count de Lafayette was doing a similar advertisement in Paris and they felt he should have a French car and the only possible one was a Facel Vega. Filipinetti was going to use a Superfast Ferrari in Switzerland, a Maserati was to be used in Italy and Lord Bath was now using a chauffeur-driven Daimler Majestic, so would I use a Mark 10 Jaguar. For obvious reasons I tried to get out of this and suggested all sorts of other exotic foreign cars and even took them out in some I owned. I am not going to mention the make, or I will be even more unpopular than I am already, but they turned them all down, saying the American public would not consider anything else to be in the class of the Jaguar.

They explained that they had already done the same advertisement with Rolls-Royce and they said that at first Rolls-Royce were quite pleased with the publicity they got, but later it became a bit much and on a request from Rolls they ceased the campaign and they would certainly do the same with Jaguars if asked. They explained that it was the greatest free publicity available in the World and if Jaguar were left out of this campaign they would be leaving out a car worthy of note in American eyes. To all of which I must say I concurred, and still do, and from the letters I have received from Jaguars I think they are of the same mind. So I finally agreed.
(continued)

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