Vintage Car Advertisements

advertising, business, design

Hello friends and sorry for the absence for the last few days. This week was the Governor’s Transportation Conference here in the Commonwealth, which I attended with my day job. A lot of talk about roads and bridges got me thinking about cars, needless to say, so I wanted to post about a few of my favorite classic car ads.

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My husband Scott is a long time Chevy fan, and I myself am a Camaro driver and Chevy convert. Don’t tell my dad! We picked up these little beauties at an antiques store in Berkeley Springs, WV last fall – cute decorations fulfilling both my design nerd appreciation of kitschy typography and Scott’s interest in American car heritage. I will say, however, that he is not necessarily a Vega fan.

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So what’s so great about these early 1970’s ads anyway? My personal interest is in the typesetting, specifically the sort of over-kerned look that reflects the compact Vega. A subtle nod at the movement away from the over-sized family cars of the ’50s and ’60s and interest in affordable vehicles for people of all economic and social backgrounds – not to mention rising gas prices. Check out the cars featured in Mad Men if you don’t know what I mean. Or if you just want to see some cool vehicles. But I do have to say I love the simplicity and straight-forwardness of the ads, but I cannot get on board with the weird indentations. Must have been some sort of design trend.
I also love that Chevy was loyal to their advertising company, Campbell Ewald, for more than 90 years. CE had time to learn about and grow with GM, becoming part of the company culture and turning out some great, feel-good American advertising, evolving with the needs of the country through the Depression, several wars, civil rights and so much more. I can only imagine that GM learned a few things about what Americans wanted in a car from CE as well. I think this symbiotic relationship is key in any designer-client relationship.

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