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Recommended Reading — “Ask the Man Who Owns One”: An Illustrated History of Packard Advertising

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“Ask the Man Who Owns One: An Illustrated History of Packard Advertising” by Arthur W. Einstein, Jr.

Imaginative advertising sells. And few automobile companies were better at the task of getting their message across to potential car buyers than Packard. So, just what is it that made Packard’s display ads so effective?

Well, who better than a former advertising executive to give an insightful explanation regarding not only the ads themselves, but the reasoning behind the models that Packard chose to produce and how they marketed them. Author Arthur Einstein Jr. was an advertising executive in New York City, and he’s a hardcore automobile enthusiast, so his knowledge of advertising and how it related to selling Packard automobiles is both perceptive and highly informative.

While the focus is on advertising, this 282-page book is also a study in Packard history, starting with the company’s roots in Ohio and the prewar years of car building in Detroit all the way up to the 1940s and to the company’s demise in the late 1950s. To illustrate Packard’s advertising wisdom, the book is lavishly illustrated with all their display ads through the years, and, while there are 133 ads shown, only 16 are in color.

As an example of Einstein’s marketing analysis, he wrote this about the Light Eight model from the early 1930s: “Packard management learned from its experience with the Light Eight that to offer a scaled-down model of what it was currently building for the carriage trade was not enough to keep the firm in business. While Packard prestige was invaluable as a sales tool, the market that it had tried to capture with the Light Eight was not there. The buyer of the $1,000-$1,800 car was not looking for a scaled-down luxury car; he was looking down to the low-priced field for basic transportation, which was becoming increasingly comfortable, speedy, and attractive. The Light Eight was a perfectly good car but a marketing miscalculation.”

This is one book that Packard owners, collectors, and enthusiasts will surely want to read—you will find it very entertaining and revealing. A review in the CCCA’s Classic Car Club Bulletin said: “Any Classic Car enthusiast with even a slight interest in Packard will be drawn to this book. It is a delight, covering the subject unlike any past effort I have seen.”

The book was printed in both hardcover and softcover format, and is still available directly from the publisher, McFarland. They list the softcover version on their website——for a mere $35.