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.
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.”
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.
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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