Thursday, November 15, 2007

The General Tire - "Goes A Long Way to Make Friends"

Probably the oddest tire ads came from the General Tire Company. But also some of the nicest.

Naturally, General Tire's wartime ads had a patriotic focus... but what's so odd about them is not only the gently humorous style of the art (so singularly unique among the more typically aggressive, "masculine" artwork employed by the other companies) but how little emphasis General Tires put on tires.

One of my Flickr friends, Paula Wirth, graciously allowed me to borrow a couple of her own General Tire scans to emphasize the point.

Taken as a whole, I'd say that General Tires planned early on to appeal to the real decision maker of the house, "she who holds the purse strings"... the little lady.

In fact as late as 1948, when this ad below appeared (finally showing a tire on a car) the emphasis is still more on flowers than on automobiles.

And notice that its a woman at the car door, while the old gent tends to the tulips.

In 1955 General actually produces an ad with a car-centric theme. Also, after ten years of a consistent "big single image" page layout, the ad sports a slight design variation as well, with the addition of the four vignettes along the bottom.

But take a closer look at the people in the image and a subtle message begins to appear...

The hubbies are all, "Gee honey, ain't it neat? Can we get one, pleeeeeze?"

But the wives (who carry the chequebook) are stand-offish. Their body language, arms crossed across the chest, hands in that contemplative, "Hhmmm, I don't know..." position give away that the General Tire strategy hasn't changed one bit.

In the end of course they will acquiesce. After all, these cars sport General Tires. And General Tire "Goes A Long Way to Make Friends."

* My thanks to Paula Wirth for sharing her scans with us. Be sure to visit Paula's new blog A Damn Fine Product for tons of art and articles about "the ephemera of the past".


  1. Anonymous1:23 PM

    "Unknown662" is by Dal Holcomb and "Unknown663" is by Robert O'Reid (ROR)


  2. Thanks Fortunato! :-)

  3. This week it’s on the road :)
    interesting topic by the way.

  4. I'm glad you think so, Pablo - thanks for your comment :-)

  5. You're so nice, Leif, and I love your blog -- feel free to blog my images anytime!!!