Home » So This Is What Rolls-Royce Making A Math Joke Looks Like: Cold Start

So This Is What Rolls-Royce Making A Math Joke Looks Like: Cold Start

Cs Rolls Math1
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Marketing for Rolls-Royce must be weird. Especially back in the era before the internet and really nice, invasive demographics and influencers and all that crap. I mean in the magazine and word-of-mouth era. Rolls-Royce’s sales numbers by country were generally such that, were you to get a penny for every car they sold in a given country per year, by the end of the year you could probably have almost enough cash to play a game of Galaga. The fancy-ass company did do some marketing, and in one old ad I came across something I didn’t really expect: a math joke.

Before we get there, we should talk about that picture up top there, a real image from a real 1973 Rolls-Royce brochure. I’m sure it was intentional, but taking a picture of the car right behind what seems to be a telephone pole or something is certainly a bold choice. It’s like a terrible Craigslist ad picture, especially if that huge column of wood was hiding a huge dent in the Rolls. I’m just amazed nobody asked the photographer to maybe go back out and snap a few shots where the car isn’t bisected by a huge tree trunk or whatever.

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Here’s the ad I’m talking about, from 1973, with the math gag highlighted:

Cs Rolls Math Ad

See what;s going on with those cheeky Rolls-Royce marketing suits? Rolls-Royce sold 22 cars to germans in 1972, in 1973 they were on track to deliver 52, so – and here’s where they were really giggling – they did the math and extrapolated that, should sales continue in such a manner, “every man, woman, and child in Germany should own a Rolls-Royce by about October 1990.”

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Honestly? That’s a pretty funny little joke! It’s also surprisingly un-stuffy for Rolls-Royce, and surprisingly un-smug, especially when you think about the eye-rolling precious-ness and too-much-money-goofiness of modern Rolls-Royce.

We should check Rolls-Royce’s math here, though: if we start with their 1973 sales number, 52, and then roughly take how much that increased from the year before, which would be about 136% but let’s shave a bit off that to account for, uh, easy math, so we make it 130% growth up until 1990, so that’s 17 years. That would give us 73,346,021 Rolls-Royces sold.

Did the Rolls ad people extrapolate Germany’s population in 1990? Because that would be 79 million, which is in the ballpark of the numbers I got! And I was conservative on that growth rate – jack that percentage up a bit higher and yeah, every German adult and child would be enjoying their very own Finest Motorcar in the World! Wow!

And what a society that would be! Germany’s domestic automotive market would be pretty much off-limits to everyone, including Germans, who I guess would only export their BMWs and Volkswagens and Borgwards as they drove to their jobs in the silky silence of their Rollers.

Also, I bet parking and traffic would be bad there, and that’s not to say anything about the danger of toddlers and babies flinging their Silver Shadows down the Autobahn at crazy speeds.

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I think Rolls-Royce’s 1970s ad suits came up with one of the best future apocalypse movie plots I’ve ever heard – a country overrun with babies and toddlers people in Rolls-Royces!

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Lokki
Lokki
22 days ago

As is common Jason has found a simple answer to a complex problem and therefore must be simply: WRONG.

Unfortunately, like so many of today’s (ED-have Rewrite insert something appropriately generationally snarky here) he stops with lazy first level analysis.
It appears -someone will have to check as I can’t be assed to do the math- that Jason has everyone in Germany buying a new Rolls in 1990. But, to get to that point by compounding sales every year, a LOT of people are going to have to be repeat customers… meaning that there is going to be a cubic scheisse-tonne of used Rolls on the market – many in great condition since, in order to reach our sales goal a lot had to be sold to those who were either too young, too old, or toooo tooo crazy to drive. But, anyhow regardless recall that everyone in the country is going to pop for a new one in 1990. This means there is zero market for used ones in Germany and there are tens of millions of them!

So let’s examine things a bit farther and look at the implications. Natürlich all these used examples are going to have to be exported. I would speculate that at first, Poland would be the ‘target market’. However Poland is small, and that market is going to soon be saturated. So next, maybe France! And if that isn’t enough, well every good Soviet citizen should have a Rolls, Right? I mean all Comrades©️ are equal, right? Rolls aren’t just for Commissars any more! Next? The World!

But, you say, what if the people in these countries don’t want to buy Germany’s used cars. Well. Let’s just say that history tells us that German marketing can be relentless….

Wir haben unsere Möglichkeiten, Sie zum Kauf zu bewegen!

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
22 days ago

Since I live in Munich, I instantly recognise the background: Olympiapark in Munich.

Greensoul
Greensoul
23 days ago

I was the photographer. I was suffering from tea and biscuit withdrawals. Give me a break and puff off you wankers.

AlterId
AlterId
23 days ago

I suppose hiring Sir Oswald and Lady Diana (née Mitford) Mosley as spokespeople and posing them in Nuremberg would still have been considered poor taste at the time instead of, you know, edgy.

Black Peter
Black Peter
23 days ago
Reply to  AlterId

I understood that reference

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
23 days ago

And we think driver visibility is a problem with modern vehicles…

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
23 days ago

Bark! pardon, I mean as in a tree, possibly ash.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
23 days ago

An interesting prediction, especially considering reunification happened in October 1990. I wonder how many cars they ended up selling there and how many Trabants they had to take as a trade in.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
23 days ago

“taking a picture of the car right behind what seems to be a telephone pole or something is certainly a bold choice”

Its a toddler playing hide and seek.

Chronometric
Chronometric
23 days ago

What strikes me about photos and film from the 70s is the overwhelming brownness and the unwavering lack of perfection. Even the then-new Olympic stadium has discoloration on the concrete, a bit of rust, and an ugly chain link fence. So what has improved?

Our modern processes?
Maintenance?
Our sense of color?
Our choice of photo and film locations?
Shot composition?
Did we invent paint in the 80s?
Photoshop?

Protodite
Protodite
23 days ago
Reply to  Chronometric

We thankfully moved away from brutalism, which while occasionally fun from a design perspective, is an utterly inhuman and thoughtless architectural style imposed upon the public by maniacal egotist architects

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
23 days ago
Reply to  Protodite

Yeah, Brutalist buildings just didn’t tend to fare well in climates with seasons, the raw unfinished concrete discolors and accumulates dirt and mildew. By the 1980s, a lot of buildings put up in the ’60s and ’70s were already looking noticeably dingy

Protodite
Protodite
23 days ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

lol @ Boston Government Center.
“It doesn’t look habitable new, and it will only age terribly and quickly” is such a brilliant sales pitch

Last edited 23 days ago by Protodite
Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
23 days ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Cheap new stuff from China.

OCS-BN
OCS-BN
23 days ago
Reply to  Chronometric

In the mid-70s Prof. Dr. Manfred Köhlmeierhansenfurt from BASF in Ludwigshafen started to develop wild new shades of brown nobody had seen before. Within BASF, he soon was regarded as madman. Colleagues strictly avoided him in the cafeteria. As a consequence, Köhlmeierhansenfurt went into severe depression. But he slowly started to realize that looking at these new shades of brown actually made him feel better. In search of a name for his new palette, he came up with the term “color”.

Köhlmeierhansenfurt left BASF and founded RAL Colours GmbH and ended up making millions with his invention. It’s due to him, that today we can simply walk into a hardware store and purchase a bucket full of DIN-standardized joie de vivre.

Not that there’s anything wrong with brown, though.

Phuzz
Phuzz
23 days ago
Reply to  OCS-BN

Someone must have come up with Pantone 448 C (a slightly greenish brown), which is officially the ugliest possible colour. It’s the colour used for tobacco/cigarette packaging in countries that mandate plain packaging.

getstoneyII (probably)
getstoneyII (probably)
23 days ago

Two things:

-I’m pretty sure the top pic is just a bisected photo on top of a swatch of the dead carcass that is swathing the seats. Pretty swanky swag, eh?

-The 12 sales in ’72 is on the license plate as 1272. As to what the letters/hyphen mean, that’s for Einstein to swagger about.

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
23 days ago

Clearly you are unfamiliar with this oft neglected formula for calculating the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.

getstoneyII (probably)
getstoneyII (probably)
23 days ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

That’s quite the presumption, considering I reek of elderberries.

Chronometric
Chronometric
23 days ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

African or European?

Chronometric
Chronometric
23 days ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

I can’t swallow Florida.

getstoneyII (probably)
getstoneyII (probably)
23 days ago
Reply to  Chronometric

That’s what she said.

Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
23 days ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

Wrong, a Floridian swallow is when you have hide all the coke balloons at once.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
23 days ago

The ad says there were 22 sales in 1972.

getstoneyII (probably)
getstoneyII (probably)
23 days ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

The ad copy was using metric units.

Martin Ibert
Martin Ibert
23 days ago

I am pretty sure that in 1973, when they said “German”, they really meant “West German”. Because while the East German regime did buy some cars from the “non-socialist abroad”, but usually they were Volvos rather than Rolls-Royces.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
23 days ago
Reply to  Martin Ibert

Most definitely. The UK didn’t even recognize East Germany until late 1973, when the ad was created, they were still backing West Germany as the sole, legitimate government.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
23 days ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Weird since GB was one of the powers that decided how post war Germany was to be carved up.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
23 days ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

The plan was for Germany to regain sovereignty under a single government following a referendum in all occupation zones, but the Soviet Union stopped cooperating with the western Allies in matters other than air traffic control and Spandau prison and went it alone, turning their sector into East Germany and recognizing that. The western Allies unified their zones as planned and created West Germany via democratic processes. But the two governments both claimed to be the sole, legitimate one for the whole country until the early 1970s, when East and West agreed to drop their claims to each other and open formal relations, which was a condition that allowed them both to join the United Nations. The major distinction was that West Germany officially considered itself a legal successor state to the German Reich and maintained its obligations under international treaties entered into by the German Empire and Weimar Republic, while East Germany did not claim any such succession and regarded itself as an entirely new state existing on the historical territory of Germany.

Last edited 23 days ago by Ranwhenparked
Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
23 days ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Given Germany had just fought a brutal war of extermination against them and but for the grace of a series of particularly brutal winters and terrible German decisions nearly won I can’t say I blame the SU from not wanting to see Germany make a comeback anytime soon.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
23 days ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

It wasn’t so much that, the Soviets had already committed to a reunified Germany and officially remained committed to that goal through 1990, the process broke apart initially because of Soviet disagreements over the implementation of a new German currency and the distribution of coal supply among the different occupation zones. After that, West Germany had difficulty even broaching the subject, since doing so would have required recognizing East Germany’s government to even open negotiations, while the Socialist Unity Party of Germany also became gradually more resistant to unification, due to the recognition that they would immediately lose power in any democratic elections. By the early ’70s, East Germany had largely dropped any official goal of reunification and had started trying to develop their own distinct national identity and culture, separate from West Germany (they even banned the lyrics of their own national anthem, Risen from Ruins, due to expresing goals of unity, it was played in instrumental form only from then until things started loosening up in the late ’80s).

Stalin did make some offers in the early ’50s, but I think the jury is still out on how sincere they were, whether he would have truly held up his end of the bargain, and whether the East and West German governments would have cooperated sufficiently to implement them. Taken at face value, his main demand by then was largely that a unified Germany not join any international defensive alliance and not host foreign military forces on its territory.

Last edited 23 days ago by Ranwhenparked
Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
23 days ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Interesting. Thanks.

Justin Haas
Justin Haas
23 days ago

I believe that is the Olympic stadium in Munich. Would have been pretty new at the time. Right next to BMW world and the BMW museum, but that would have come much later.

Aaron Headly
Aaron Headly
23 days ago

Being literally owned by Volkswagen was not predicted.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
23 days ago
Reply to  Aaron Headly

Rolls-Royce is owned by BMW. Bentley is owned by Volkswagen.

Last edited 23 days ago by Shooting Brake
Maymar
Maymar
23 days ago
Reply to  Shooting Brake

As part of the deal, Volkswagen Group acquired the historic Crewe factory, plus the rights to the “Spirit of Ecstasy” mascot and the shape of the radiator grille. However, the Rolls-Royce brand name and logo were controlled by aero-engine maker Rolls-Royce plc, and not Rolls-Royce Motors. The aero-engine maker decided to license the Rolls-Royce name and logo to BMW and not to Volkswagen, largely because the aero-engine maker had recently shared joint business ventures with BMW. “

I’m going with VW owns Rolls-Royce but can’t sell Rolls-Royces, BMW is selling a really good knock-off.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
23 days ago
Reply to  Maymar

Yes, BMW had already signed a deal to supply engines to Rolls-Royce, then came in second to Volkswagen in the bidding war, threw a tantrum, threatened to cut off the supply of engines and force Rolls-Royce and Bentley production to stop, then did some backdoor negotiations with Rolls-Royce Plc that resulted in the division of assets settlement. Volkswagen got the factory, tooling, intellectual property, and Bentley brand name, BMW got a license on the Rolls-Royce name, but Volkswagen was allowed to continue to build and sell Rolls-Royce cars for a transitional period of several years until BMW could get their own new factory and model up and running, and BMW would continue to supply engines to Volkswagen (though VW upgraded the old Rolls-Royce 6.75 V8 to meet new emissions rules in order to rapidly transition back away from reliance on BMW)

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
23 days ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited was created as a wholly owned subsidiary of BMW in 1998 after BMW licensed the rights to the Rolls-Royce brand name and logo from Rolls-Royce Holdings and acquired the rights to the Spirit of Ecstasy and Rolls-Royce grille shape trademarks from Volkswagen AG. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited has been manufacturing Rolls-Royce branded cars since 2003.

So BMW has been producing very fancy 7 series, er.. um Rolls-Royce’s since 2003.

Last edited 23 days ago by Shooting Brake
Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
23 days ago
Reply to  Shooting Brake

Yes, and between 1998 and 2002 Volkswagen produced and marketed Rolls-Royce cars at the Crewe factory, selling them through the pre-existing Rolls-Royce/Bentley dealer network, in agreement with both BMW and Rolls-Royce Plc. They were the final models developed under Vickers ownership – Silver Seraph, Park Ward, and Corniche V, the Bentley Arnage, Brooklands, and Azure were the related, badge-engineered models that continued to be sold by Volkswagen through 2011.

Last edited 23 days ago by Ranwhenparked
Martin Ibert
Martin Ibert
23 days ago
Reply to  Shooting Brake

Depends on how you see it. BMW owns the brand, but the actual factory went to Volkswagen, as well as (I think) all the IP except for the brand. The modern BMW-era Rolls-Royces have nothing in common with the original Rolls-Royce lineage, except for the name and logo on the badges.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
23 days ago
Reply to  Martin Ibert

I agree

OCS-BN
OCS-BN
23 days ago

It looks like RR expected to sell their vehicles in both parts of Germany. In 1989, population in West Germany was 60 million. East Germany was about 16 million people. I could have imagined the West Germans toddlers driving Rollses, but in the East? No way.

Flyingstitch
Flyingstitch
23 days ago

The top shot. Did that telephone pole really occupy the center of the picture? That’s the first place I was looking for a math joke.

Then, before I read the ad copy, I was trying to see a math joke in the license plate. But nah, it was math I could actually understand. Which is far too low a standard for RR.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
23 days ago
Reply to  Flyingstitch

They chose to keep it simple since Rolls Royce customers typically hire people to do the math for them.

DadBod
DadBod
23 days ago
Reply to  Flyingstitch

How did that photo make it past an editor? Is it supposed to be artistic? I blame drugs.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
23 days ago

Humor, RR.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
23 days ago

I truly feel like Rolls is a company that could easily go back to the swoopy-ness of a vintage model Silver Cloud or early Phantom without missing a beat and capture automotive headlines – but won’t.

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