In the cultural mix (or mix-up) that was Studebaker-Packard, two once-proud auto manufacturers fell into market decline against GM and found themselves in a marriage of convenience between two very different cultures. Studebaker had made wagons and jeeps before moderately-priced vehicles in the 1930s; in the 1940s it had two post-war hits in its 1946 model and later rocket-nosed sedan, both by the Raymond Loewy office. Packard had been the top of the heap in the ‘teens and ‘twenties, but was stretched to come up with styling budgets that kept up with GM and even Ford. Mercedes’s entry into the US market seems like a very tentative toe in the water by this time (the mid-1950s), when we know how the story turns out. Notice that the advertisement is even traditionally “framed!” It is almost painstakingly focused on “car” rather than “lifestyle,” in distinction to most contemporaries. This is an interesting mini-study in brand evolution and you will note it appeared in National Geographic magazine…a niche audience at this time? This ad spawns so many questions about who was calling the shots in marketing at this juncture that one wonders if it was a prelude to Daimler-Chrysler, another partnership generally viewed as disastrous for the latter.
Not all advertisements have to be masterpieces to document important changes, and I think this is what material culture studies has to suggest that is helpful to graphic design history. I doubt that most histories of Mercedes-Benz would take time to make much note of this brief arrangement, given their explosive growth since. This was purchased at a flea market on a whim more than twenty years ago.