Pontiac Once Made a Bizarre Short Film to Sell the Parisienne Sedan

I know the 1980s were a different time. But sometimes I see things from back then and it shows me just how much cocaine was going around. Take the world of automotive promotional videos.

When I’m bored, I like to dig around YouTube for old automotive promo videos of obscure models, especially from the 1980s. I find the effort — or lack thereof – that automakers put into these things fascinating. But some were straight-up weird. Take the promo video for the 1984 Pontiac Parisienne.

Read more

1984 Pontiac Parisienne Sedan
1984 Pontiac Parisienne Sedan

The fifth generation Parisienne was Pontiac’s large B-body car; a badge/platform job of the Buick LeSabre, Chevy Caprice/Impala, and Oldsmobile 88 of the time. It was the biggest and most luxurious Pontiac you could buy before it was replaced by the Bonneville. You’d think a promo video for a car like this would be pretty straightforward. That didn’t happen for the 1984 model year.

1984 Pontiac Parisienne


Pontiac officials seemed to think that a video for the Parisienne should have a plot that reinforced the fact that the name for the car meant a female woman from Paris. The video opens with the sound of a French accordion playing while showing two women with umbrellas making their way through a town square. As they find their seat, the camera shows the Pontiac Parisienne and its driver making a rather strange entrance.

The Parisienne is driven by a well-to-do-looking middle-aged man who pulls up and immediately zeros in on the two women in a creepy way. Then it’s just over two minutes of the narrator talking about exterior features of the car. Not bad right? Think again as you’re immediately treated to another two minutes, this time of a sequence showing the Parisienne’s driver greeting everyone in the square, wooing women by simply walking by them, and then proceeding to pick up the two women from the beginning of the video by simply buying each of them a balloon. It’s an awkwardly long sequence you watch while thinking “Ok…what exactly is happening and where the hell is the car?”

Then, after a random scene of a waiter admiring the Parisienne like it’s a Ferrari or something, the video voiceover switches to French - for reasons I’m still not sure of - while describing the car’s engine choices and additional features with English subtitles at the bottom of the screen. That’s another two minutes of what the hell is happening. The video ends with the man and two women getting into the Parisienne and driving off into the sunset with a Disney’s Up worth of balloons.

I wonder if the people that watched this when the car was out were left with more questions than answers about what they just witnessed. And I bet none of the questions were about the car. But considering that Pontiac sold thousands of these things over the nearly 10 years it was in production, I guess Pontiac convinced a bunch of middle aged, middle manager men that this thing was some sort of chick magnet. You just needed balloons.

More from Jalopnik

Sign up for Jalopnik's Newsletter. For the latest news, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Click here to read the full article.