Italian manufacturer Pirelli had their tyre treads marked on bodies of female models as a symbol in their famous 1980s calendars. In the 30s, Husqvarna used its racing success to market their products in advertising. The copy and pictures appealed to people's inspiration and was street smart for increasing sales.
During the roaring 20s the Jazz age set off, overwhelming trends that also gave an echo within the motoring industry. In France - where else - fashion was of the utmost importance for acceptance of a new vehicle model. Coachbuilders expressed themselves vigorously and fashion magazines were quick to follow up on new trends. Concours d'élégance were established in Paris with witty designs being displayed to many excited local spectators - one would not show up in Biarritz in last year's model, which was as bad as appearing in the fur of the previous season. It is worth noting that advertising can appear in many shapes, which are accounted for in this little two-wheel episode. The Swedish lieutenant Einar Söderén made a stop on l'avenue de l'Opéra with his 1925 Husqvarna on his way to northern Africa. Interested Parisians gathered around his machine wondering what this beast was made of. Being surprised over the Swedish steel and its quality made of rigid material, some motoring insiders were surprised to see the big engine that powered this vehicle. "C'est un vrai construction avec une moteur comme dans une voiture," were the spontaneous comments. It was truly good publicity although the brand was not sold there at the time.
From its early days, the motorcycle was a magnificent beast - both economically and politically. During the 20s, it took a somewhat modest position in comparison with the four-wheelers. But not only did one regard all the new possibilities riding a potent machine on the road, but also the design and a prestigious layout grew in people's mind. More often than not, the new vehicle era of the 30s developed into a showpiece of the bike designers around Europe and Husqvarna played a vital role in these European developments.
Printed press such as daily journals and weekly magazines had at the time no competition from other media. And certainly not from television, which was still a long way from being introduced. Prints of the era raised the question whether advertising was to be considered an independent art form - or just a folly existing in the tabloids, newspapers and magazines. The debate was absolutely not new as it had been an ongoing theme for at least 500 years since an Englishman printed a leaflet on a hand-press in London. In the 15th century, this man called for attention that his products could be purchased at a low price, which was great news at the time.
At Husqvarna, the boardroom consisted of men in suits during the 30s. Sales increased into the 1,000s during the last part of the 20s and now was the time to look to the future. After establishing how to invest and where to book the profits, the Husky men had the noble task of establishing their goals in advertising. Racing was hot on the Swedish agenda and instead of using the normal tools by publishing street machines, it was decided to feature TT – Tourist Trophy – race success as a new concept from the factory. It was decided that racing success was the right medicine for transmitting sales messages to the would-be customers.
And, as racing victories took off in the beginning of the 30s, the advertising department - maybe just one man - showed the Swedish customers elegant photos or sketches of successful riders in their leathers competing on the Swedish machine. So, in the early 30s, you would see Gunnar Kalén, Ragnar Sunnqvist and Ake Jonsson in advertisements, featuring these riders' latest victories. Simple sketches were the favourites and no glittering shots were used to communicate the company's agenda. It was definitely not the same art as in the automobile business. However, it was a straight-forward concept that worked well within the Scandinavian borders. Mind you, everything published was in colourful black-and-white shades - no true colours here! In the end, originals were for rich people - advertising, you could say, was a poor man's art. However, ‘if the bike I ride to work can also win races, then I feel I’ve made a good choice buying the right machine’ was the important statement.
In a quest for excellence, Husqvarna always strived to better its position on the market by advertising their products. So, be it Gunnar Kalén or Stanley Woods, the riders always marked success by being an icon in the eyes of the customers. To develop means to look forward, taking pleasure in wins and constantly strive for the next victory. But the 30s came to an abrupt halt when the war stalled ambitions towards the end of this magnificent decade.