In this collection, we will dive into vintage advertisements and take a look at car advertisements between the 1900s and 1950s. The very first and simple car ads were a sign of times that emphasized the fact that cars were the ultimate luxury.
The first auto ad appeared in 1898 in the newspaper of Ohio. The title of the auto ad was very straightforward in terms of marketing. It included a call to action, “Dispense with a Horse”. The auto ad talked about the model and benefits of Winton Motor Carriage.
The ad showed that it’s not costly to maintain, its speed is 20 mph, and it had no odor. In the end, the ad compared it with the horse saying that a horse would never be able to do these tasks.
In the early 20th century, cars were still fighting for road space with other means of transport, as very few people could afford them.
Automobiles were heavy machines that usually required at least one mechanic to operate and maintain the car. This is why most ads were targeted at the wealthiest of society.
One of the groups that ads appealed to were the partygoers. Those who would want a car to make a noticeable entrance to the next glamorous event.
Or even to their chauffeurs – the ones who would have to deal with tires and lubrication, which is why they needed a reliable vehicle. Auto advertising was very strategically oriented even from its start.
As time passed and mass printing evolved, car advertisements also emerged on the ground. In 1912, Henry Ford said that Ford advertising would never try to be clever.
As soon as the 20th century started, the adverts became beautiful and brighter Art Deco illustrations, Ford who was in favor of simplicity, could not keep it simple. The Vintage car of the beautiful Ford Lincoln showed off the vibrant but used simple colors on a sleek vehicle.
Ad agencies used creativity for the marketing of their products. Even in the 30s, when there was The Depression in America, the streamlined car ads were cut down because of the era’s darkness.
Those ads during the period of depression had a slight jet-setting feel that conveys travel and class. However, we have seen more automobile ads related to the wars during that time.
Car advertisements were becoming more significant, and over the top during the 50s, they were more like the American cars of that time. However, Volkswagen changed it all with his iconic 1959 advert for the Beetle with the tagline “Think Small”.
This is the time when the motoring world and marketing went along with it. Later in the 1960s, Volkswagen challenged conventional US-centric cars through its symbolic ads.
In 1959, the ‘Think Small” campaign was created for Beetle by Helmut Krone, and its copy was written at Doyle Dane Bern Bach agency by Julian Koenig.
It was a revolutionary period in which advertisement was done with simple and honest messages. Later it became a great marketing example of functional marketing, such as turning a disadvantage into an advantage.
(Photo credit: Philippe Freyhof / Flicker / Article based on A History of Car Advertising by Natiak Meida Team ).