One day while looking for the current tour dates for Justin Bieber, we stumbled upon one of our bookmarked sites that consists of old (and recent) car ads, dating back to the very early 1900s.
While looking through this design-porn of advertising, it's obvious lots of things have changed. Most notably, safety standards, power steering, anti-lock breaks...less blatant sexism. But interestingly enough, a lot of the auto advertising design principles have not changed much at all.
Here are a few things that caught our eye...
While SUV's all the rage now, they've been around for a while. Some of these 'rugged' vehicle ads don't seem all that different from ads of today:
- 1 part cool shot of some mountain terrain you'll never drive on
- 1 part vehicle shot at a cool angle
- 1 part headline
- 2 parts copy (granted, the older pieces go way overboard on this part, compared to their more modern counterparts)
So while the quality of the ads have changed over time, the basic formula hasn't. That's not to say advertisers have gotten lazy. It just means that some advertising formulas work, regardless of the times.
These old SUV ads don't look all that different from their modern counterparts
Unconventional isn't new.
You might think some of the more modern ads that rely on brand awareness, cleverness and ultra simplicity are somewhat of a new thing. And you'd be wrong. Take for example, these sparse ads from Land Rover and Jeep:
These are great ads, but hardly something new. Volkswagen transformed the art of advertising with their famous Think Small campaign. While it may seem commonplace now, VW embracing so much white space and simplicity in their ads during the 1960s was a complete departure and came to define the VW brand aesthetic for decades.
Of course, each decade has had their own hilarious advertising moments that thankfully are not being reproduced. Case in point, these gems from Dodge/Chrysler/Plymouth that look like they were created in the midst of one of Don Draper's week-long benders. If only we could see more car ads that rely on giant Road Runner heads...