Time machine: breaking down the style of car advertising

Written by Domenico Di Maio

Week 46

One of the things I love to do with my father is comment on TV ads during the breaks between Champions League matches. I know that his mildly argumentative behaviour leads him to criticize everything that gets sold through the screen, and I adore listening to and evaluating his every opinion.
The last time we were watching TV ads during a match, I was particularly impressed by his animated face while observing robots, astronauts and a minority report scroll across the screen introducing the latest Audi A4: a perfect vehicle both visually, and above all, technically.
This led me to think, how did automobile companies work with the advertising of the past?
First we must consider the decline of print media, in favour of digital formats for a younger, more agile technological generation. Today we live in a totally different world, and automotive companies at that time, were forced to play on a different, and much narrower playing field.

Paper was undoubtedly among the most effective means of communication; but how could you express complex concepts, such as mechanical evolution, through a static material like paper?
Above, you will find a series of old advertisements that demonstrate how atmospheric elements, such as weather and the changing seasons, were able to create spectacle and allude to a sense of technological innovation.
These adds communicate simple concepts such as how to avoid getting stuck in the snow, or the ability to tackle winding and snow-clad paths, which for a while, was the principle selling point for companies who wanted to keep up their standards of innovation, particularly in the four-wheel drive sector.
Time passes, technology evolves and we know where we currently stand. In the meantime it seems like a good opportunity to remember how ads were made not too long ago.