History of advertising No 103: André Citroën's Eiffel Tower ad

On the night of 4 July 1925, thousands of Parisians gawped in amazement as 250,000 light bulbs burst into life on the Eiffel Tower, emblazoning the family name of the car-maker André Citroën across the French capital.

Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

Even for a man renowned as one of the pioneers of modern communication, renting the tower was a daring and memorable coup.

The letters, each more than 100 feet high, created a gigantic display so bright that it could be seen 60 miles away, and it came to be recorded in The Guinness Book Of Records as the world’s largest ad.

For the next nine years, the lights continued to shine in tribute to a man dubbed Europe’s answer to Henry Ford by making mass-produced cars accessible to millions of people. What’s less known about Citroën was his genius as a marketer.

While car-making turned Citroën, the founder of the double chevrons, into an immensely wealthy man, his money also allowed him to indulge his passion for advertising and pioneering marketing techniques that helped him deliver on his belief that customers should always be the focus of attention.

Well before marketing and PR became commonplace, Citroën was using them widely to encourage people’s interest in cars and, eventually, to buy his products.

He even produced toy versions of his famous 5HP model. The result was not only thousands of children peddling toy cars with the Citroën name on them but also ensuring it was on display in the country’s toyshops.

Designers and photographers were on Citroën’s payroll from the beginning, producing high-quality promotional materials that the company’s dealers were encouraged to use.

Topics

You have

[DAYS_LEFT] Days left

of your free trial

Subscribe now

Become a member of Campaign from just £46 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk ,plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now
Share

1 Why creative people have lost their way

What better way to kick off the inaugural issue of Campaign's monthly print offering than with another think piece on the current failings of our industry, written by an embittered, pretentious creative who misses "the way things used to be"...

Share

1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).