Edward Herrmann provided a cerebral, classy quality to Dodge ads

Edward Herrmann

I find myself being asked about Edward Herrmann, who died on Dec. 31. Besides his extensive acting credits, people forget that Edward was spokesman for Dodge in the 1990s–the long-running, successful campaign with the tagline “The New Dodge. We’ve changed everything.”

Fifteen years ago this month, when I was a copywriter for Dodge’s marketing communications agency, I went to Salisbury, Connecticut, with my art director partner Lori Soenen to interview Edward and get a portrait for our planned cover story for the Dodge owners’ magazine, which I edited.

Edward 03Edward and his wife Star had just returned home on a red-eye flight after the six-week run of a play Edward did at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

His mother was ill. There was record cold.

Yet they gave us two full days of their time, opened their home to our crew, provided a catered breakfast and lunch, took Lori and me to dinner at the White Hart and insisted on paying the tab. (I remember him striding, refreshed, into the kitchen on the second morning and declaring to all of us, “I’ve got my libido back!”)

Edward told me the Dodge part was “big” for them, and probably as the result he had been able to build what he called “a man’s garage” for his collectible cars: an Aston Martin, a Packard, Rolls-Royce…I think there were five. He posed before it, standing outside in the snow, no matter that it was 10 degrees. Whatever we asked of him. And always he kept up a good-natured patter.

Among his many points of erudition, the guy could recite automotive history up and down. He was very well acquainted throughout the car hobby. In fact, for some years, he emceed the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Edward at Pebble Beach. Photo from AutoWeek, Sep. 4, 2000.
Edward at Pebble Beach. Photo from AutoWeek, Sep. 4, 2000.

I’m most privileged to have known him. I saw him again in 2011, at David E.’s memorial service, and had the chance to gain absolution for something terrible that happened.

After all the trouble he and Star had gone to for us, for the agency, the client killed our story, and the matter was handled disgracefully. As it turned out, our timing for the cover story couldn’t have been worse. What we didn’t know was that Dodge was finished with Edward as spokesman. Classy and cerebral was out.

The New Dodge campaign was succeeded by Aerosmith and the ridiculous, short-lived Mayor of Truckville.

Edward said he never held it against me–a good thing to know.

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