Vintage Automotive Marketing
This article covers some of the design philosophies and pictorial idioms that influenced classic automotive marketing in the 1920s and 30s. While delighting you with vintage images and providing a broad stroke distillation of art history during the ‘inter-war’ period it will also add insight to your creative inspirations, whether that be for something specific like marketing your driving lessons or simply abstract musings in your daily life
Remember the last time a poster caught your eye? Remember the the sparkling of thought that lit your interest? Have you tried to put your finger on this moment, before the art becomes an advertisement and to see what it was that commanded your attention? Noticing these things and what they tell us about ourselves is a fun and interesting way to filter the immutable stream of advertising that shadows our every move. There is something about a still image that can ignite the imagination.
In automotive marketing, creative types devise stories to inspire this feeling in you as you walk around, listen to the radio and browse the interwebs. Modern day Don Drapers’ highest billable hours are to car companies hoping to speak to the aspirational you while planting the seeds of desire. The high value of the automotive market makes all forms of media cost effective and the transitional nature of customers leads to frequent new ads attempting to adopt the latest cultural influences. Looking back through vintage car posters you can see the different cultures and values held by society through the perspective of advertising.
For example, now advertising speed is frowned upon. Once upon a time when the roads were less busy, the speedo topped out at 80mph and owning a car was something only few people could afford, culture and automotive marketing were different. The most iconic of automotive marketing images come from a time before colour tv when the most effective advertisement was a still image in a magazine.
Speed is clearly harder to convey in a still image than it is in moving pictures yet it has always been a part of advertising cars. The expression of motion is strongly linked to the aspirational triggers that loosens our wallets or purse strings so this was a large influence on art in advertising any form of transportation at the time especially for cars. As is the idea of status which is characterised by hero images of the cars as large and proud in each ad.
Nowadays we all understand a catchy headline and attractive offer but there is still nothing more powerful than an eye catching art work. At the start of the 20th century this meant art deco. Modernism and the scientific language of design was seen to be effective advertising and by the 1920s with the advent of the machine age, speed was a primary theme. In print media this was commonly expressed in aerodynamics – some term this particular branch of art deco as Streamline Moderne.
By the late 1930s the dynamism of the artistic movement had lost much through repetition and poor imitation. This factor and a couple of other geopolitical issues led to a shift in the way technology was seen by society and in turn used for automotive marketing purposes. The aspirational nature of the era and our unspoiled faith in technology is preserved crystalline in the rich colours, high contrast, bold geometric shapes and ornamentation of automotive marketing art work at the time.
Find more images like these and other interesting automotive marketing pictures at LPLs Pintrest board