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What Makes Us Buy?

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On: Thu, Sep 19, 2013 at 1:51PM | By: Karen Cook


What Makes Us Buy?

“Like a Rock”, “Have You Driven a Ford Lately?”, “The Heartbeat of America.”, “What A Luxury Car Should Be.” We all recognize these automobile advertising slogans. They are meant to touch something inside us and make us purchase the product. What touched the first drivers? How did manufacturers tap into consumers desires when cars were fresh on the market? Today we don’t even recognize some of the original manufacturers but the slogans used are a little confusing and makes us wonder what the early car buyers thought was important. Consider the following taglines:

Made a little better than seems necessary. (Beggs)

It’s obvious why this wouldn’t work today. I just have a hard time figuring out why this was appealing at the time.

Built with the precision of ordnance (Driggs)
I guess “ordnance” was a more common word when this was popular and it really isn’t such a bad idea to compare cars to firearms as long as you’re talking about speed and not the ability to kill someone.

The little brother of the aeroplane (Martin)
This one’s cool. It makes you think of flying down the road and freedom. Who knows? This one could be revived when we have cars that actually fly.

With the engine in the rear, where it belongs! (Corvair)
In retrospect this was a huge flop. I wonder why it was important to have the engine in the back and how the ads convinced buyers that this was better.

The Molybdenum Car (Wills St Clair)
The whole point of this slogan was that this car was safer since the addition of molybdenum made its steel frame even stronger. I can only imagine what this did to fuel efficiency, but that wasn’t a high priority for early motorists.

Some of them were simple, straight forward and the manufacturers were undoubtedly sure of their product:

The only perfect automobile (Porter Stanhope)

Don't experiment. Just buy a Ford (Ford)

First by far with a post-war car! (Studebaker)

Perfectly simple, simply perfect (Maxwell)

The world's safest car (Cole)

There is no better car (Stevens-Duryea)

Today we want a car to be economical, safe, and fun. A hundred years ago motoring had to be fun, safe, and economical. Only the wealthy could afford to buy a car and it was not a necessity, so ads had to speak to frivolous enjoyment. It will be interesting to see what desires the car makers of the future will have to fulfill and how they will convince us that driving their automobile will make all our dreams come true.


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