It is always a treat to look back at advertisements from the past. A lot of rules and techniques have changed in print advertising from the early 90s to now, and most of those changes have been due to new technology available for design. Today, designers have a lot more tricks available when attempting to create a marketing piece that immediately captures attention; in the past, designers often had to use hand-drawn illustrations or low-resolution photographs. You may notice in browsing through the automobile ads below that many include more text than today’s posters and magazine inserts. You may also notice, though, that every ad still attempts to reach consumers with a lifestyle appeal or benefits appeal, a valuable marketing trick that is still prominent.
The following 15 vintage automobile ads are the best from their eras, and you may be able to see why. Each seem to be breaking away from their competitors with a fresh design or style that put them at the top when it came to marketing.
Most ads were still in black and white at this time. This one also is different from others of its time in that the picture includes people in action, rather than just an illustration of the car.
Another beautiful color ad in an era of black and white, this one is aimed at women. The marketers for Chevy were onto something in targeting the woman of the household, and they do it right too, with the appeal of lower prices but better benefits (performance and beauty).
This ad is rather stunning with the dark black of the car against the rich reds of the mansion in the background. It seems Ford was trying to appeal to men who want a high class lifestyle, and the colors are perfect for this message.
The colors of the woman’s dressage outfit perfectly match the black Cadillac with orange stripe. The overall color usage is quite dreamy and the picture of the Cadillac owner jumping her horse in the background reinforces the “strikingly beautiful appointments” of the enclosed model.
The colors are vibrant, the layout is gorgeous, and the story draws you in so that any man can imagine himself as a Nash man. The extra photos with captions on the left side of the page are perfect for men who only like to skim.
The appeal to this ad is the headline dividing two very eye-catching illustrations; however, it is interesting that the colors of the cars are two slightly different shades of green.
This ad shows that the era of illustrations ads only is ending. This one is of a colored photograph appealing to middle-class couples.
Showing a bit of skin has been unheard of in 50s ads made for the general population, so this one is definitely stretching boundaries during its time.
True, this is an Italian car, so using beautiful models in ads were much more acceptable; however, this American advertisement shows that a sexy model with a humorous play on words can really turn heads.
A half-dressed girl holding onto a BSA motorcycle with a Ferrari in the background has quite the sex appeal, especially with the muscled up male model standing behind her. The use of different shades of red is quite interesting as well.
A muscle car advertised with a muscle man in a sweater? An interesting idea, but what is really appealing about this ad is twofold: only half of the car is showing and the models are slightly off-center.
An advertisement that definitely appealed to the younger crowd, this photo of a skateboarding stunt in the dam is a nice touch. Action shots were not very common before this time because of the lack of technology, so this ad is certainly taking advantage.
The pharaoh on the side of the van is an original touch; it does go along with the message of a king-sized vehicle. Ford was trying to make the “Built Ford Tough” appeal with an appeal to a king-sized lifestyle.
Finally in the era of vehicles in action, this Thunderbird ad shows how appealing a car in its element can be. The angle is a nice touch as well.
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