Category Archives: Auto Advertising

What Everybody Ought to Know about Auto Advertising in the 1910’s

Auto advertising promoting a certain lifestyle came on the scene in the mid 1910’s. A lifestyle illustration portrays the message while the ad copy plays a lessor role.

1912 Inter-State ad
1912 Inter-State ad
Copyright © 2012 Dennis E. Horvath

In the early 1910’s, we see a transition to retouched photographs for illustration. Inter-State Automobile Company’s July 1912 Cosmopolitan Magazine ad shouted, “The Automobile for Women. Inter-State starts and obeys the will of the woman driver as readily, as simply as an electric coupe.” The copy regarding the self-contained tire pump proclaims, “Any woman can attach the valve to the tire, turn on the pump and in a few minutes have tires just as solid and as perfectly filled as if done by the greatest tire expert in the world.” The retouched photographs portray women using these new features.

1916 Pathfinder ad
1916 Pathfinder ad
Copyright © 2012 Dennis E. Horvath

An elegant line illustration promoted the ambiance of women going to the country club in a Pathfinder ad from 1916. The copy read, “A great deal more than money is involved in the purchase of a Pathfinder. Love of luxury and beauty, cultivated taste and keen appreciation of what is best in motor car construction are important factors in the equation.” Car description and pricing are downplayed with eight point type.

1918 Haynes ad
1918 Haynes ad
Copyright © 2012 Dennis E. Horvath

An August 1918 Haynes ad proclaimed, “Haynes Stability.” The copy talked about Haynes’ Silver Anniversary of motor car building. The illustration portrayed seven fashionably dressed women in a touring car at the beach.

1919 Apperson ad
1919 Apperson ad
Copyright © 2012 Dennis E. Horvath

The Apperson 8 is announced as, “The Eight with Eighty Less Parts” in 1919. “For the owner who considers his car something more than a mere conveyance, who demands that in color, line and appointments it reflects a patrician taste – the Apperson 8,” read the copy. The illustration showed a chauffeur waiting as the lady of the house is assisted with her coat before going out for the evening.

These early auto advertisements demonstrate the evolution of advertising in the early part of the twentieth century. They move on from a product emphasis to promoting a lifestyle.

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Give her an Indiana-built car

When looking at the advertising of the broad range of Indiana-made automobiles during the first half of the 20th century, you see the evolution of automotive advertising during this time frame. One of the changes in print advertising was the enticement of women buyers.

1905 Pope-Waverley ad
1905 Pope-Waverley ad

Early automotive advertising focused on the product by touting features and reliability. Wedding gifts were the theme of a 1905 Pope-Waverley ad in Life Magazine. It suggested, “From the Groom to the Bride. It’s quite the thing nowadays to present the bride with a Pope-Waverley Electric. No gift imaginable can make as lasting an impression or give the recipient more genuine pleasure and convenience. These superb carriages are ‘always ready,’ clean, noiseless, and simple to operate.”

1929 Studebaker ad
1929 Studebaker ad

Studebaker’s December 7, 1929, Literary Digest ad is probably one of the high marks for the decade. Three-color illustrations told the story. “This Christmas – Give her the keys to happiness.” The main illustration is of a father and daughter looking fondly at their gift of keys to a Studebaker Eight to the mother. “Each year this gracious Christmas custom grows in favor…the presentation of the Keys to Happiness to one well beloved. An attractive gift case holds the shining keys for one of Studebaker’s smart new motor cars — an Eight by the Builder of Champions! One should remember that this ad was conceived before the October 1929 stock market crash, which had cataclysmic effects for advertising.

1934 Duesenberg ad
1934 Duesenberg ad

Duesenberg introduced its lifestyle advertisements during the mid-1930’s. One ad emphasized an almost full-page illustration of a women in a stylish riding habit and her hunting dogs with the tagline, “She drives a Duesenberg.” Another showed a women talking to her master gardener with five other gardeners working in the background on a palatial garden with the same tagline. The Duesenberg in question is inferred, it is not shown anywhere. These are probably the epitome of early automotive lifestyle advertising.

These materials are part of the sales process in creating attention, interest, and desire in the prospective customer’s mind. Early on, Indiana manufacturers sought to interest women in their products. Why not give the woman of the house an Indiana-built car for Christmas?

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