Musings On Hummer Headlines


The Strange Evolution of an Old Copy Line for the Hummer H1

From conspicuous consumption to spiritual mindfulness

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By Shane Hutton of Arcana Academy on Dec 06 2021 – 7:00am

When I first became a spiritual guru, I was working in Boston on a series of print ads for the Hummer H1. It was 2001, pre-September, everybody’s Chakras were still relatively aligned.

The Hummer H2 was soon to launch to the masses. To help broaden appeal to a larger audience, we wanted to soften the oversized, aggressive image the brand had at the time.

In essence, we decided to use the H1 campaign to shift the brand’s dosha a little away from fire and a little closer to air. 

To find images that fit the tagline “Like Nothing Else,” we traveled to the four corners of the world and depicted the biggest, baddest truck on the planet, dwarfed by the landscapes it was designed to conquer.

Places so remote really do make you “Feel small,” as one headline invited the audience to do. The isolation reminds you of your insignificance and makes you introspective, softly forcing you to be present in the moment and consider your place in the vista.

The headlines reflected my inner monologue, asking the high-net worth iconoclasts attracted to the Hummer brand, “What good is the world at your fingertips if you never actually touch it?” and “How’d my soul get way out here?”

Tying all the headlines together was a “bridge line” (in the bottom left of the ads) that summed up the sentiment in the clean, symmetrical, circular style copywriters like: “Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere. And sometimes in the middle of nowhere you find yourself.” 

I don’t know how. I’m not sure when. But in the two decades since the ads ran, the line has taken on a life of its own. It studied yoga, did Ayahuasca in the Amazon with a shaman, slept in a Yurt and went to Burning Man back when it was still cool. Today, it is a wellness advisor and lifestyle coach, while I’m co-founder and ECD of a creative agency in L.A.

Last weekend I wanted to show a friend the H2 ads, so I typed that bridge line into a search engine and this is what came back, attributed to “author unknown.” 

It’s all good. I will consider it as my selfless service. Namaste.TAGSARCANA ACADEMYAUTOMOTIVEHUMMERMODERNISTA!MUSINGSADVERTISING

Shane HuttonShane Hutton is co-founder and executive creative director at Arcana Academy, a Los Angeles-based creative advertising agency with a full post-production and audio suite.More from Shane Hutton