- Written by webmin
From the first time it appeared in print about 110 years ago, Packard’s “Ask The Man Who Owns One” slogan was recognized as one of the great selling lines of all time. Reportedly the result of a casual conversation between J.W. Packard and a spectator who asked him, “Is the Packard car a good one?” at the New York Auto Show in 1900, Packard was foremost among those to understand the phrase’s power. Over the next decade, they built what Henry Ford’s advertising manager E. Le Roy Pelletier called “one of the most subtle, one of the deepest campaigns for the attraction of man.”
As with other great taglines (today’s “Got Milk” being a great example), it was copied extensively, either with slight modifications of the “Ask The Man Who Banks Here” sort, or outright, for everything from Parker Rifles, to Century Cameras, to Durand Steel School Lockers, to Redican’s Reliable Pit Bull Terriers. Carmakers, however, stayed away.
Except, perhaps, for Vulcan. Obscure to most Americans, this Southport, England-based (just north of Liverpool) lasted from 1903-1928, according to Culshaw and Horrobin. However, I’ve found records of Vulcan exhibiting cars as early as January 1902, so they were contemporary with Packard’s first use of the phrase.
And as you’ve inferred, they used the Packard tagline. Is it possible it arose spontaneously in two countries at once? Did Vulcan get the idea secondhand, without attribution from Packard, or did they steal it outright, figuring they were protected by distance? In the United States, Packard was certainly concerned with protecting their brand, and they certainly would have done the same in England.
Don’t get me wrong – it was almost certainly Packard that originated the phrase, but I can’t help but wonder what the story is behind the only other car company I’ve ever found that used it as well.