By Llewellyn Hedgbeth
1927 Erskin Model 50 4 DoorSedan
Erskine knew the importance of marketing first-hand. When, for instance, in 1921 the National Automobile Chamber of Commerce asked thousands of car owners what automotive feature was most important to them, the answer received most often was "endurance". Erskine took that need to heart, penning a series of Studebaker ads explaining that Studebaker car sales were up while sales of replacement parts were decreasing markedly. The only conclusion was this: Studebakers were built to last.
When it came to the Erskine, Studebaker definitely went on the offensive with an intensive advertising campaign that covered the globe. Ads appeared in Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, and North and South America. There were billboards, posters in black-and-white as well as brilliant color, full-page ads, postcards, brochures, etc. Studebaker headquarters made stories and ad copy available to local papers everywhere.
Just after its American debut, the Erskine was advertised in January and February 1927 as a car inspired by Europe, designed by Dietrich, built by Studebaker, approved in Paris—and now [the city's name] could see it. The ad flooded the market, appearing in Reading, Kingsport, Charleston, San Antonio, Miami, and many other American cities. With a slightly varied headline it also appeared overseas with a blank left for the name of the city and the country, e.g., "Singapore Acclaims It! Now All Malaya Can See It!"
As is still the case, satisfied customers were some of the car's best salesmen, and print ads recounted their testimony. One happy owner related, "I have only one arm, but with my Erskine which handles so easily, I am not at all handicapped in my driving." Others mentioned its beauty, performance, and pickup: "There is nothing prettier on the road today. The Erskine Six more than fulfills my expectation as to performance and pickup. When the green light flashes, so does the Erskine—and away it goes ahead of all traffic." Another pleased owner said, "This is my 17th car and I would not trade it for the whole bunch that I have had before, and I have had some good ones!"
A rainbow with a pot of gold (the gold Erskine) was the leitmotif of a number of strikingly colorful ads which again stressed that Europe had given its approval. The theme was carried out, as well, in a Spanish language ad that featured gold coins rolling beneath the car and across the road.
"See the Car All Europe Has Approved"
European ads were in keeping with their markets. English ads, drawn by Woolcott, showed British country scenes. One, depicting a lady with her greyhounds, compared the Erskine's speed to that of "a greyhound straining at the leash." Another showed the driver of the car who'd stepped out to converse with a man on horseback while two ladies waited in the Erskine's back seat, a German shepherd standing guard alongside the car.
Original drawing for Erskine ad