Gen Z loves the 1990s. Mom jeans, crop tops, white sneakers, fanny packs — tight biker shorts paired with Doc Martens, it’s all back, baby. When it comes to cars,, you can’t talk about the ‘90s without mentioning Geo. And if you remember Geo, you can’t forget this little car brand’s painfully ‘90s advertising.
See, GM’s 1990s compact cars were basically trash. The Cavalier, Beretta, and whatever other small car did sell units, but customers were growing entirely dissatisfied with GM’s poor quality and lackluster dynamics. GM came up with a sort of two-pronged solution to fight this, the first was Saturn. The second was Geo.
Geo was a brand made entirely of captive imports; cars that were designed nearly entirely by another company then rebadged and sold under a new name in a different market. GM figured “well hell, let’s just sell the import models we have the rights to,” and put models from Suzuki, Isuzu, and Toyota all under one roof, and one unified brand.
This new brand, aimed itself towards young 1990s era 20 somethings, in their trendy outfits and lust for life.
Oh, my god. That ad has every stereotype of the 1990s in there. The leotards and spandex tights. The overuse of dutch angle cameras, and warm-toned color-balanced footage. The doves, because for some reason we loved doves and other light-colored flying birds.
The music, though. Apparently, GM wanted a more “personal” touch, a human-style look at a new brand. So it paid (likely) an exorbitant amount of money to commission multiple arrangements of Getting to Know You, from the musical “The King and I”. “Getting to know, Geo”, they’d say, recalling the song but cutting the last you.
Lord, listen to this rendition of Getting to Know you. Listen to that rasp, in that faux Tina Turner esque voice. I think maybe subconsciously, GM wanted to ape the slightly less cringy Tina Turner Plymouth ads.
Did it work? No. Geo’s lasted less than a decade, and the captive imports were either rebranded as Chevrolets or axed completely.
Cool advertisements, though.