The advertisements for automobiles in the 1950s were all about the car’s features. In a modern age where car advertisements focus on selling an experience, the 50s ads seem long winded due to the fact they are nothing but an announcer describing the car. The car was the selling point, not the experience.Here are some examples of car commercials from the 50s:
The 1950s loved the sheer idea of just being able to drive. The end of World War II meant that the parts needed to build a car were no longer being rationed. The new lines of cars being produced were met with consumers who either were finally shedding themselves of their old clunker or finally getting the opportunity to purchase their own car. Post war America was having a new car boom.
The advertising focused on what the car is capable of because that what the consumer was looking for. They pursued the public by trying to attract their rational desires. The suburbanization of America was the biggest driving force behind the car boom and the creation of the rat race, that commuting back and forth from work in the cities was the focus for advertisers. Advertisers goal was to reach a broad range of individuals and they did by focusing on the family. Almost every print ad in the first link provided focused either on a full family or a happy couple. The only time the Chevrolet commercial did not focus on a car it showed a couple leaving a large suburban home and loading into their car. The first thing the announcer boasts about is how great the car is to haul families around. The whole focus is to match the idea of car ownership with the idea of the suburban family being the ultimate goal a consumer has.
Critical Thinking Questions
– Compare the 1956 commercial to one by Chevrolet today. (Here is one if you can’t think of any) What are the differences between the two in how they are trying to attract a consumer?
– In what ways is the car a symbol of mass consumption?
– All of the ads make a point of making note how easy the car is for women to drive. Who are the advertisers trying to reach with this kind of message?