05 December 2005

[logo_design, pdx_history] Well, We Won't Have Thomason To Kick Around Anymore

Gaze lovingly upon the logo, Portlanders. If what the Oregonian says is correct, we may be seeing the last of a long standing Portland commercial name: Thomason Autogroup.

Thomason has a storied history. Everyone who's watched a television in the Portland market in the last 10 years has seen one of the goofy ads (usually starring Scott Thomason himself), and the former logo, Thomason-head (cousin to Tom Peterson's head) that was ubiquitous anywhere within 20 miles of a Thomason dealership. The run of ads reached its zenith in the year-long "Greatest Car Commercial In The World" campaign, featuring Scott as the longsuffering dealer and Kid-in-the-Hall Kevin McDonald as a remarkably flamboyant video producer hired to helm the project.

Perhaps wanting to climb out of the pool on a (relatively) high note, he sold his stake to New York's Asbury Automotive Group in 1998. Scott's head left the logo as well. The replacement, while not having the obvious character of Scott's head, was effective in its way. Contained within the still-fashionable oval (which seemed to take the auto-logo world by storm when Inifinti debuted and still seems to rule) is, what appears to be, a road intersection at a hilltop. The green seems to then suggest countryside, the yellow, city. The intersection is, of course, a "T" intersection. The Thomason name is emphasized in the type with a mixed-case approach providing subtle artistry.

Though it lacked personality (as did the entire Thomason public face did after the Asbury aquisition) the logo itself is quite effective and I rate it as rather well-done. It's just – well, how can you ever follow Scott's act?

Since Asbury's entry, Thomason's stores have been – well, not so good. As this story (which you'll have to pay to read after fourteen days hence) from the Sunday Oregonian holds, Asbury has been quietly selling off the Thomason dealerships and should have them all unloaded by the end of the month. None have changed public names yet, though business names have been changing.

It is entirely possible, if not probable, that by the time 2006 is but a few months old there will be no more Thomason anywhere. The empire started by Scott when he acquired his dad Dee's dealership (Dee Thomason Ford, I think it was) will have ceased to be, gone not with a bang, but a decided whimper.

Goodbye, Scott. We scarcely knew ye – wait, I tell a lie; maybe we knew you too well.

(NB: anyone loading the autogroup's home page Thomason.com will note a nod to Dad in the page title: Deefault Thomason Autogroup Portland. I approve of the inside joke)

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