A focus on the trends in word usage and audience in advertisements, specifically the automotive industry. (late 1800's-present) As consumers , it is important to understand how the power of words influences what people buy and why. What can be discovered about the motives of the advertiser to the targeted audience?
Mary Lou Klier and Diana Thomas
Turn of the Century
From t-shirts to shoes, jeans to cars, we are all consumers. We have to buy what we need. How do we know what is available and where to find it?
Many resources such as magazines, newspapers, television commercials, and of course, the internet are available to us. All of these marketing ideas are advertising, just in different forms.
One of our most relied upon invention's is the automobile. How did people first learn where to buy a car? How much did it cost? Did it come in different colors?
By using historical images from magazines, newspapers, and even old photographs, we can better understand the progression the automotive industry has made in showing consumers its product.
Let's step back in time and look at some early advertisements.
Nuts and Bolts
Henry Ford, the son of a farmer, was born in Greenfield, Michigan on July 30, 1863. In 1896 he built his first petro-driven motor car in a little brick shed on the family farm. It was named the Thin Lizzy. It had no reverse or brakes. He continued to experiment and by 1899 had raised enough money through investors to start the Ford Motor Co. in Detroit, Michigan. He wished to target the average person to purchase his automobiles. In 1903 his advertising campaign stated that his Model-A sold for $900 versus the $2,000 to $5,000 of other competitors. Another inexpensive alternative in the beginning of the automotive industry was to build your own car. For example. the Neustadt-Perry Co. (shown next to Ford ad) offered a kit with parts and directions to build your own vehicle. 1, Analyze these two advertisements. As a consumer what would you find appealing in each? 2. At the time these ads were written in the early 1900's, what do you think the opinion of the audience (consumers) was? 3. Who would have been most interested in purchasing an automobile at this time?
Alexander Winton, owner of the Winton Bicycle Company first launched into the automobile business in 1897. His first automobiles were built by hand and would eventually become well-known and appeal to the wealthier buyer. After the Vanderbilt family purchased a couple of his automobiles in 1901, the image of his company was boosted. However, that same year Winton lost an automobile race to Henry Ford. He continued to produce vehicles the during the early 1920's, but seemed to only focus on the wealthier customer. This narrow vision may have led to his downfall. The company stopped production in 1924, probably due to a rise in numerous competition in the automobile industry. 1. What words can you recognize in this advertisement that shows the appeal to wealthier consumers? 2. How do you think think the loss of the race to Henry Ford impacted consumers? Do you think consumers were more concerned with safety or speed? Why?
Mainly for Men
As automobiles were becoming more popular, the advertising began to appeal to the masculinity and intelligence of the buyer.(buyers meaning only men) 1. Why isn't the name of the automobile at the top of this advertisement? 2. Why is the title, "Man's Duty" powerful?
Think about gender roles and how they have changed throughout the century. List five things a woman was not pemitted to do in the early part of the twentieth century. List five things only a man was permitted to do in the early part of the twentieth century.
Progression after the 1920's
Style and Sophistication
Continuing into the early twentieth century, the auto-advertising industry made some impressive changes in the hope to appeal to a wider audience. One such pioneer was Edward "Ned" Jordan. Jordan founded The Jordan Motor Car Company in Cleveland, Ohio in 1916 after working as an auto-advertising executive in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He wanted to bring more spunk and liveliness into his ads, although, sometimes he went a little overboard for the times. He had a passion that appealed to many diverse and wealthy individuals. His company was extremely successful up until its demise in 1931. Even though they surived the Stock Market crash of 1929, competition became too cut-throat afterwards. 1. Do you think the name "Playboy" would have been offensive to anyone during that time period? 2. Who do you think this automobile would have appealed to? Why? 3. What words stand out in this ad? 1.
1. Who is this advertisement targeting? Some of the first subliminal advertisements were masterminded by Edward Jordan. He is known for this concept. Subliminal means a hidden message,something not fully evident or explained outright. 2. What is the subliminal message in this ad?
Not Just for the Men
Examine this "action-filled" ad by Jordan. 1. What is the subliminal message here? 2. Do you think a 1920's housewife would want her husband to buy a Jordan Playboy? 3. What audience do we now see referred to in this ad? Why do you think the focus is starting to change?
You may have noticed by now that the automobile advertisements have come a long way since the Ford and Winton ads we previously viewed. In a mere decade or two, they have progressed from black and white to color, basic to more stylish in wording, and the addition of the female gender. 1. Does this ad appeal to your "average" family? Why or why not? 2. Does this ad portray a vehicle as a necessity? 3. Would this be a "politically correct" advertisement seen today? 4. Why might a father feel guilty about not buying this car?
You may have noticed that vehicles in the early years were affordable just for the wealthy. At the right you see a perfect example of the automobile as a status symbol. 1. Notice that this picture focuses on the car interior. What changes are evident? 2. What words indicate high quality and prestige? 3. What symbol is creatively placed to represent wealth?
1950's and Beyond
Automobiles met idealistic needs of the consumers.
Moving forward to the 1950's, we clearly see many more people, families in particular, added to try and capture more automobile sales. During this time period, cars were made larger, stronger, and more comfortable thanks to new technologies. With the development of city roads and interstate highways, car travel became much more pleasureable, affordable, and appealing to many. 1. Identify three outstanding adjectives in this ad. 2. Describe the setting. 3. Identify the subliminal message.
Compare the Ford and Chevrolet ads. 1. Which advertisement do you prefer and why? 2. Only looking at the texts for both ads, how are they similar and/or different? 3. Which car may a consumer purchase if only reading the text? Why? 4. Which car may a consumer purchase if only shown the picture? Why?
Horsepower...means exactly what it says. Power by horse! A car with a 245 horsepower engine was the equivalent of the strength of 245 horses! The 1950's era in automobile advertising boasted of great power with ease of operation. 1. Why would the horsepower in a car be of importance when vacationing? 2. What words would attract you to this vehicle?
1. Why do you think a bus is in this picture? 2. When comparing the bus ride and car ride in this picture, why may the ad say,"trips never seemed so short, or roads so smooth?"
The Versatile Station Wagon
Describe three features that have changed on the Ford Station Wagon.
Sometimes less can actually mean more. Discuss three poerful words in this ad.
Welcome to the 21st Century!
How much has changed?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLLKcv_lDKg With 21st century technologies, the auto industry has been able to advertise its product in unique and appealing ways to reach all audiences. Listen to this Chevrolet commercial. What is the company trying to say about their product by using sound? The Ford advertisement on the left is a prime example of the automotive industry linking in with the music industry to promote their product(s). 1. Who do you believe this advertisement may potentially attract? 2. Compare your beliefs to that of the car advertisements of the early part of the century. What are the similarities and differences? Why do you think these changes were necessary?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejcHwvG9cHQ Now, listen and watch this Dodge advertisement. What message is the company trying to get across to listeners? Between the two, in your opinion which company has created a more appealing visual and/or has been more convincing?
Thinking about our previous topics of how advertisements appeal to certain people, who is this ad supposed to attract? Why may someone feel excited and confident about buying this truck? Word examples?
Though sparse with words, this Chevrolet Camaro ad speaks volumes. "A picture is worth a thousand words." What does this quote mean? What is this ad saying to a person? Does the setting play a role? What previous ads may this compare to? Why is the letter "E" in red?
New Car Technologies
With the coming of the new millenium, also came a more acute awareness for the preservation of our mother Earth. In doing so, the automobile industry was forced to rethink the fuel economy of their vehicles. Shown is a 2005 Tahoe Hybrid advertisement by Chevrolet. 1. Describe what "hybrid" is and explain why it was necessary to evolve the automobile in this direction. 2. Visit www.fueleconomy.gov Compare the Tahoe gas mileage pre-2005 to a more recent year. How many mpg has the fuel economy improved? How much savings in a year could a person expect when buying a newer model? Is there a Chevy Tahoe Hybrid on the market today?
With changes in vehicle styles to the American market, also came competition from other countries. One such company was the Toyota Motor Company started by Kiichiro Toyoda of Japan in 1937. During WWII, the company was built trucks for the Chinese Imperial Army and after the war began passenger car production. In 1957, the first Japanese car, the Crown, was exported to the United States. Today, Toyota is one of many "Americanized" brands of cars found throughout the United States. 1. Choose two Toyota, Ford, and Chevrolet vehicles. Research where they are made. Are all parts made in the United States? Are the Toyota cars all made in Japan and then exported to the U.S.?