Have you ever heard or used the idiom, built like a Mack truck?
Until yesterday, I can’t remember seeing a Mack truck (or at least not paying that much attention to it) in live and living color. It was just a saying. but after visiting the local truck and tractor museum, I was completely awe-struck. I know this is not the usual thing of fantastical properties but bear with me. You see, language is living and changes dramatically based on the current zeitgeist. It is why we say roll up the windows (because we used to have to crank or roll them up versus now when we just push a button).
If we can look back, we can find such inspiration in our language, scrutinize it and find its greater meaning. In fact, the marketing of yesterday can influence the language of today!
Mack Truck: A History
So, back to the Mack Truck. the company was founded in 1900, but the Mack brothers (Jack and Gus Mack) started dreaming in 1893, when they envisioned a carriage business. They started with a bus, and their idea of a vehicle to replace the horse-drawn carts never left their minds. From the bus, they moved on to the truck, and this vision would influence the American transportation industry and help to transport soldiers during the first World War, and this is when they got the nickname “Bulldog.”
After the war, the dream of the brothers truly took off, even more, and after successfully showcasing all it could do during the war, the question arose about how much good it could do back in America if the streets were there, the highways to transport from place to place.
As you can imagine, in 1919, the War department came up with a plan to send a convoy of Mack trucks from coast to coast — at this time, there were no real highways that transverse the country. I can’t imagine how arduous it had to be… But on that trip was a young Army officer who took notes and knew the trip could be better. That gentleman would become the 34th president of the United States – Dwight D. Eisenhower. (Eisenhower went on to create the National Interstate System during his presidency, in fact, Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956.)
Then you saw Macks being used not only for transportation, like buses, but also for firetrucks and tractor trailers.
That bulldog name paid off later in the 1960s, when marketing campaigns picked up… and they’d already broken it for years. The user of the truck decided on the brand, just like the reader determines yours.
Mack Truck would later be sold on to the French Company Renault and now part of the Volvo-Group. The various models I saw on the exhibit were massive and had a bulldog mascot.
And with the growing strength of the Mack Truck on the market, they also absorbed other companies into their brand until Mack truck became a part of our language.
So, without the Mack Truck we might not have a highway system that connects up to each other, providing us with access to goods and community. It was a tool for inclusiveness, connecting the East Coast to the West Coast.
So, next time you see such on the highway, or even in a museum like I did, be thankful for that spark of an idea from the children of German immigrants who imagined a world where life had to be more than just what existed and leaned into their imagination of creating a vehicle that paved the way to connect us all.
Action points: What did Mack Truck do?
There are a lot of things we can learn from this historical example about Mack Truck.
- They leaned into their imaginations to create something to fulfill a need (to transport items for local and long-distance replacing wagons and trains)
- They found a niche they could work in first – first transporting people but never forgetting their dream of replacing the horse-drawn wagon and the train.
- They went to war to prove their idea.
- They used the reviews of their users to gain market insight and shares
- They collaborated with others, including bigger organizations like the US Military.
- In doing a collaboration, they made connections with others who understood their use and vision.
- After their collaboration, they used that feedback from the reputation they’d built as the bulldog – and used it in their marketing.
- They effected change.
Action point: How can you use this example to help you with your book marketing? What can you implement?
Let’s discuss this in the Facebook group at:
Learn more about the Mack Truck from this wonderful article that I used as my primary source in creating this post: https://theleansubmariner.com/2012/06/13/built-like-a-mack-truck/
Interstate Highway System. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_Highway_System
History of the Interstate Highway System. Federal Highway Administration. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/interstate/history.cfm
About Mack. Mack. https://www.macktrucks.com/about-mack/
About Mack. Mack Trucks Historical Museum. https://www.macktrucks.com/about-mack/museum/mack-history/