No matter where you look these days, you’re inundated with car ads and commercials telling you about cool new features and upcoming sales you “can’t miss!” They’re so commonplace, we tend to ignore them. But have you ever wondered what the first car ad looked like?
If you dig through online archives, you can actually find the very first ad for an automobile. The print ad from the Cleveland-based Winston Motor Carriage Company ran in an 1898 edition of Scientific American. A hand-drawn picture of a man and woman riding a horseless carriage is accompanied by the bold headline “Dispense with a Horse” and a number of facts about its “strong” construction, “elegant” finish, “powerful” motor, impressive top speed, and affordable running cost.
Today’s commercials are mostly video-based with high-quality clips from automakers like GMC and Buick far outshining the simple print ads from 100 years ago.
What’s ironic is that, over a century later, many of the same words and selling points used in the first automobile ad are still common today. Commercials still rave about a new model’s craftsmanship, burly engine, smooth ride, and affordability (especially with fuel efficiency). GMC’s recent commercials emphasize its models’ “precision” and Buick touts luxurious design.
Although today’s car ads don’t try to dissuade buyers from purchasing horses for transportation, they still reflect the same appeal that automobiles have a hundred years later. What is your favorite ad?