The names Joe Schulte and Jim Ramsey may not be familiar. Still, you have undoubtedly seen their work if you ever flipped through the pages of Hot Rod, Car Craft, Popular Hot Rodding, Super Stock and Drag Illustrated, or one of the many other automotive magazines of the late ‘60s and early 70s.
Their endless ideas and copywriting skills transformed Plymouth from a lackluster brand to a leader in the muscle car era. Luckily for the Mopar enthusiasts, both men will attend the 2022 Carlisle Chrysler Nationals held July 15-17.
Schulte and Ramsey worked for the ad agency Young and Rubicam (Y&R). With the new ’67 Barracuda rolling off the assembly lines in the fall of ‘66, Y&R, in competition with several other agencies, earned Plymouth’s business when recently hired Ramsey came up with the tagline “Plymouth Is Out to Win You Over.”
Not only was Ramsey a copywriter for the Barracuda marketing, but he also worked on the GTX campaign and material for Supercar Clinics of the Super Stock and later Pro Stock team of Ronnie Sox and Buddy Martin (Sox and Martin).
In 1968, Ramsey worked closely with the Chrysler product planners to generate excitement with performance-oriented consumers, dealership employees, and the media. The Chrysler management, pleased with Ramsey’s work on the ’67 Plymouth advertising, entrusted him to develop an advertising and marketing campaign for the Plymouth Road Runner to reach the target car-buying market.
The sales success of the Road Runner led it to be named the Motor Trend Car of the Year. As a result, Ramsey and Schulte ramped up additional advertising for the Road Runner to celebrate its success. However, the new advertising to honor the Road Runner did not use photos; instead, it consisted of colorful illustrations. The bright artwork caught the attention of all readers. Ramsey continued his work as a Y&R copywriter on the Plymouth project until ’71.
In 1973, Schulte, no longer with Y&R, met with Chrysler Racing Boss Dick Maxwell. Schulte had worked with Maxwell on the Performance Clinics advertising for Sox and Martin and Don Grotheer and the Plymouth Rapid Transit System campaign. Maxwell wanted to develop a distribution network for high-performance Mopar parts. While listening to Maxwell, Schulte came up with a name for the project, Direct Connection.
The Direct Connection project’s roots can be traced back to the Rapid Transit System campaign that Ramsey and Schulte developed in 1970. The Rapid Transit System incorporated Plymouth muscle cars, factory race parts, tuning tips, tech bulletins, and performance clinics operated by Sox and Martin and Grotheer. In 1974, when Direct Connection was established, Chrysler was the only manufacturer providing its enthusiasts a racer’s access to performance parts and knowledge.
While Ramsey and Schulte moved on from the Plymouth campaign, their visionary contributions of hundreds of ads led many youth buyers to Chrysler-Plymouth dealerships. So if you plan a trip to Carlisle, take the time to meet Ramsey and Schulte. Their stories of working with one of the hottest brands of the muscle car era will surely be entertaining.
At the time of this writing, the details of the what, how, and where are being worked out. The event manager for Carlisle Events, Ed Buczeskie, is finalizing the details. To find out about all the event activities check out Carlisle Chrysler Nationals, and once at the event, listen to the public announcer for added information. This year is going to be a big happening!