“In those days, nobody believed that anyone would countenance the idea of giving up the elegant horse and carriage for such an unreliable, squalid, puffing and rattling iron vehicle,” notes Benz. He and the other pioneers opened up a new horizon with the invention of the automobile. The difficult early years were marked by a fear of breakdowns, a lack of understanding for the new technology and resultant sluggish demand, however. First and foremost, people had to be convinced that this new means of conveyance was safe. Benz was no great friend of advertising, however – for which the more genteel term “business recommendation” was used at the time. He held the view that the quality of a product must speak for itself. He nevertheless published the world’s first automobile advertisement for the patented motor car in 1888.
The emphasis was now persistently on “goodwill advertising” as a trust-building exercise. The initial literature included claims such as “Absolutely safe”, “No special operating skills required” or “Always ready for service”.