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Photographs of the past – Part Two: the road is calling!


This time we turn to the genre of hand-drawn posters to illustrate the theme of road travel in the United States in the 1950s and 60s. With the explosive growth of the post-war US economy and the accompanying well-being of the population, Americans discovered car travel. We went not only to relatives, but also to national parks and other attractions. The roadside infrastructure was then not nearly as developed as it is now, so I had to pack it seriously.

Photographs of the past - Part Two: the road is calling!

The network of paved roads was already quite ramified. The only problem was that the two-strip constructed according to the standards of the 1930s could no longer cope with the number of cars. This is what a trip in 1960 looked like in Iowa, which was not very populated.

Since air conditioners, even in American cars, until the early 70s were a rare and categorically expensive option, and ventilation systems were at a rather rudimentary level, a summer trip with the whole family was an effective test of emotional stability.

Photographs of the past - Part Two: the road is calling!

With the beginning of the construction of an interstate network (multi-lane highways running through several states – the topic has already been covered in some detail here – and allowing getting from point A to point B in a minimum amount of time), long-distance trips began to take place unmatched faster. And as you progress in the design of cars and saturate them with various amenities – and more comfortable.

Photographs of the past - Part Two: the road is calling!

The once-only way to travel long distances – the intercity bus – instantly lost in popularity and respectability. The largest Greyhound network gradually slipped into the refuge of the motorless poor and marginalized.

However, since satellite navigation had not yet been invented, one had to rely solely on paper maps – and the ability to interpret them correctly.

Photographs of the past - Part Two: the road is calling!

The problem of interest for the younger generation in the contemplation of beauty as existed then, and has not disappeared today.

Photographs of the past - Part Two: the road is calling!

Over the past years, the problem of interaction with local law enforcers has not disappeared.

Photographs of the past - Part Two: the road is calling!Photographs of the past - Part Two: the road is calling!Photographs of the past - Part Two: the road is calling!

The days of military rationing of gasoline sales to civilians have been safely forgotten. There was at least gasoline, and it was extremely cheap. The Big Three and the “independent” unsuccessfully catching up with them launched a war for power indicators. And in this contest, the struggle of gas producers for car owners' wallets played an important role.

So, for example, Chevron was advertising its gasoline.

Photographs of the past - Part Two: the road is calling!

The best way to get away from the chase!

Photographs of the past - Part Two: the road is calling!

Time for Methyl Power – to save a suffering dog

Photographs of the past - Part Two: the road is calling!

One more thing. This time – to catch the sale.

Photographs of the past - Part Two: the road is calling!Photographs of the past - Part Two: the road is calling!

Well pa-up, everyone overtakes us! And below is an explanation of how using leaded gasoline will help correct a shameful situation.

The graphics are impeccable everywhere, the best and most famous artists worked – the same great and mighty Norman Rockwell, for example.

And yet one of the most successful and memorable episodes of the last was the Exxon-Esso-Humble advertising campaign, using the image of a cute tiger in the form of its mascot.

Photographs of the past - Part Two: the road is calling!

The tiger itself was not young: it first appeared on an advertisement for the progenitor Esso, Imperial Oil Corporation, in Norway already at the dawn of the 20th century. However, it was only in 1959 that the young copywriter Emery Smith from Chicago, who was given the task of quickly raising sales of the Humble Oil division of Esso, guessed to offer to "put the tiger in a gas tank".

Photographs of the past - Part Two: the road is calling!Photographs of the past - Part Two: the road is calling!Photographs of the past - Part Two: the road is calling!

The image "shot" and in the blink of an eye became the favorite of millions of Americans and Canadians. In addition to advertisements for gasoline itself, an endless series of various souvenirs appeared. One of the most popular are toy tiger tails with an eyelet that could be worn on a filling neck. By the end of the 60s, when the campaign came to naught, more than 2.5 million souvenir tails were sold in the United States alone.

Photographs of the past - Part Two: the road is calling!

Tiger in the gas tank!

Here is what Soviet journalists Vasily Peskov and Boris Strelnikov wrote about this phenomenon in their wonderful book “Earth across the ocean”: Finds in advertising, a good image are highly appreciated. In New York, we saw an ad on a cardboard: "To lovers of silence: in our cafe, the jukebox is broken. Come in." This is a penny find. Or a find can bring many millions. There is a well-known story with a good-natured tiger, which resourceful cartoon artists put in a gas tank of a car, and there it rumbled about the same as a good, strong engine rumbles. "Put a tiger in your gas tank – refuel at Esso!" For several years, to the envy of competitors, Esso reaped the harvest from successful advertising – everyone wanted to put the tiger in their gas tank, especially the wives and children sitting next to the driver. The striped orange tiger rushed forward on the road billboards and squinted good-naturedly: “Do not forget to put it in the gas tank …” In order to revive the image of the tiger, the owners of gasoline decided to bury him publicly and announced it. What happened – protests, supplication, thousands of letters: we want a tiger! This is the power of advertising.

In addition to print ads and souvenirs, even such unusual methods were used as attracting musicians playing theme songs and reprise at gas stations. As, for example, in this photo from 1964.

Photographs of the past - Part Two: the road is calling!

On TV, plots were actively used both with live actors – for example, with the then very popular actor and radio host Rex Marshall, who was in the 1960s the "voice" of Esso – and with animation elements.

Sometimes it’s a little pity that such lively, direct and slightly naive imagery disappeared from advertising and the media in general, created manually only by art and imagination of the artist.

Previous historical post with text about Airstream caravans.

Photographs of the past - Part Two: the road is calling!



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