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  • Writer's pictureNatiak Media Team

A HISTORY OF CAR ADVERTISING

Updated: Feb 27, 2021


Over the past 120 years, methods for marketing and advertising cars have been changed dramatically. It all started with black and white paper ads published soon after the vehicles' invention. The media was bombarded with all angles of slick videos, online content, and flashy print ads during these days. The very first and simple car ad was with a sign of times that emphasized the fact that cars were the ultimate luxury. Now we have been seeing the car ads for almost 100 years. Sleek Jaguars, Shiny Cadillacs, and pink Mustangs.



The Advent Of Car Advertising

Just like the first dishwasher, first microwave, or the first washing machine, the first car was also a remarkable invention of its own. Automakers didn't have to use unique or creative advertisements for their ads because their product was creative and unique. Unfortunately, it does not happen today. The first ads were straightforward; the advertisers used black and white paper for their ads and a humorous twist.


Simple Vintage Auto Ad Prints Of Late1800s To 1900s

Auto ads at the end of the 19th century were similar to the printing technology at that time. Especially at the start of the century, the vintage car prints didn't have any vehicle image on them. But as soon as the 20th century started, vehicles started to appear on the ads with a lot of font style variation. The history of branding begun at the start of the century. However, they used a uniform approach of black and white images, and more focus was on the safety and speed of the car. Car companies had made sure that their vehicles would be sold out.


The Very First Car Ad

Just as the first advertisement of any product that was ever invented, the automobile's very first ads were also product-focused. They made it possible that people would know the benefits of cars. 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 odour. In the end, the ad compared it with the horse that a horse would never be able to do these tasks. The very first automobile ad was known for its creativity and effectiveness.



Auto Ads During The Period Of The 1930s To 1940s

As time passes and mass printing evolved, car advertisements also emerged on the ground. In 1912, Henry Ford said that the 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 favour of simplicity, could not keep it simple. The Vintage car of beautiful Ford Lincoln showed off the vibrant but used simple colours 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 in 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.


The Golden Era Of Car Advertisement- The 1950s And 1960s

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 had challenged conventional US-centric cars through his 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 the 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.


The 1980s - Cars A Status Symbol

During the 1980s, vintage car prints were the best advertisement of any auto ad that makes sense. In this period, the automobile was a status symbol and a luxury product. In the 1980s, foreign car advertisements also emerged in the print media. As in the 80s, these supercars hit the market and made cars more than just a luxury. Ad agencies started to focus on style, but they also kept each product's unique points in mind while selling them. Manufacturers favoured television advertising as it is more attractive and could easily show what their product looks like. All adverts in the 80s were loud, bright, and flashy. However, in the 90s, car adverts came into the business and technology that lead to cinematic epics.


The 90s Car Tech

In the 1990s, most adverts were focused on promoting technology that you can get in vehicles. Honda has done the most famous ad of that decade. In the 1990s, Honda had introduced its VTEC system. That is the reason they put together 24 Hours of Le Man's-themed ad that showed how people could hear the sound of the engine's wail all day. For the first time in the 90s, people saw stricter regulations in cars, including safety. This tempted other brands to use the same narrative as well. Such as the Range Rover 4WD published an ad with an image of the stop sign. The ad also showed the vehicle's anti-lock brake system that makes it possible for you to control the steering in anything such as from downpour to a blizzard.



Contemporary Car Advertising

It's quite challenging for automobile companies to make an ad that can attract customers. Most of the time, it feels like we don't care or have seen it all. However, we purchase more cars today than in the past, but the decision to buy a new car is still a big challenge. This is the reason why advertising has to become honest and creative at the same time. Sometimes people get attracted to the crazier approach. This is the case with BMW and Audi; both had the most remembered ads in auto advertising history. It started in 2012 when BMW placed a billboard promoting the 35th MOA Rally in California. It was written on the billboard that "A BMW Rally with two service centers nearby, what's next? Paramedics at a chess tournament? Then the Audi advertisers decided that they would have to do something. They replied with a billboard with the caption, "Chess? No thanks, I would rather be driving".


Using motion graphic for getting more attention

Motion graphic can improve advertising message delivery and getting more attention. Here you can see an example of one of Natiak media project for North York Kia social media campaign which used motion graphic.




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