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Willys-Overland Saturday Evening Post Ads 1948-1949

• CATEGORIES: Advertising & Brochures, Features This site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated.

These are all the ads I could find on Saturday Evening Posts published between January 1948 and December 1949. Again, it seems Willys-Overland’s advertising was an exercise in experimentation. Some notes:

  1. City-And-City Campaign: The first obvious item is that Willys-Overland ran its wagon city-and-city campaign in 1948, but did not run all the ads produced in the Saturday Evening Posts (as documented here). Collier’s Magazine also got a few as did Life Magazine.
  2. W-O Graphic: In a November 11, 1946 (see 1946-1947 ads here), ad Willys-Overland used script for Willys Overland Motors. In December 21, 1946, the script was accompanied by the graphical representation of Willys-Overland in the form of an yellow “O”, colored red on the inside, with a yellow “W” atop that design.
    The scipt disappeared in January on 1947, leaving only the W-O logo. In February and March of 1947 the W-O logo was absent from ads, but then in April of 1947 it made a brief return, before disappearing again.
    In Febrary of 1948, the W-O logo reappeared, this time with the ‘Jeep’ logo hovering above it. That combo was used through May of 1948.
    In June of 1948, the ‘Jeep’ was dropped in favor of just the W-O logo. By July, the W-O logo disappeared for 1948 and 1949.
  3. CJ-2A Barely Advertised: Trucks and wagons dominate the advertising. There’s only one ad in two years for the CJ-2A and none for the CJ-3A. One reason for this is that Willys-Overland expanded their advertising to other magazines. The Farming magazines (Farm Journal, Country Gentleman, and others) were more CJ-ad oriented.
  4. ‘Jeep’ Product Badge: Through 1948 and most of 1949 Willys-Overland was advertising ‘Jeep’ Trucks and ‘Jeep’ Station Wagons. However, in late 1949 the company began a switch to WILLYS ‘Jeep’ Station Wagons (see October 15, 1949 ad), then the ‘Jeep’ name was relegated in December 1949 to a small (new) badge, while WILLYS became the more prominent branding once again. Here’s how the badge looked.
    In January of 1950, the company shortened WILLYS ‘Jeep’ Station Wagons to Willys Station Wagons, dropping the ‘Jeep’ entirely.


    January 07, 1950 Willys -Overland ad in the Sat Evening Post, page 86. Note the use of the ‘Jeep’ badge and the return of WILLYS as the primary brand.

  5. From ‘Jeep’ to WILLYS: After February 1950, Willys-Overland dropped the ‘Jeep’ badge and the ‘Jeep’ branding of the wagon as a ‘Jeep’. Instead, the company went full WILLYS branding, as seen in the September ad below. This seems incredibly strange, given the company had finally won the Trademark for JEEP that year  (June 13, 1950 Awarded JEEP registered trademark).

    September 23, 1950, Willys-Overland ad in the Sat evening Post, page 57. Note that ‘Jeep’ has disappeared completely from the advertising.

    Why did Willys-Overland drop ‘Jeep’? I have no idea. But, it’s no wonder the average person is/was confused about whether a wagon is a ‘Jeep’ wagon or a Willys wagon!

  6. In October of 1946, Willys-Overland introduced the phrase, “Makers of America’s Most Useful Vehicles” within its ads. That phrase would accompany ads into the 1950s. However, in December of 1949, Willys-Overland introduced a new phrase, “World’s Largest Maker of 4-Wheel-Drive Vehicles”. This phrase was only used once in 1949, but a variation of that phrase would eventually grace Willys-Overland ads (or Willys Motors) in the form of  “World’s largest manufacturer of 4-Wheel-Drive Vehicles”. I don’t have dates for when the former was dropped and the latter adopted … yet.

Below are the 1948-1949 ads from the Saturday Evening Journal:


10 Comments on “Willys-Overland Saturday Evening Post Ads 1948-1949

  1. Mike

    Back in the early 1990’s, I was attending the Rusty Relics car show in Mahwah, NJ, and a vendor was selling these wagon pages from the Saturday Evening Post for $2.00 each. A little horse trading and I got them for $1.50 each. I still have them, framed and hanging on my living room wall.

  2. Iowa steve

    Would the legal battle over the “jeep” logo have had some effect on the advertising? Now sure when it was settled in court and if there might have been restrictions until settled? A little history lesson on this might be needed?

  3. David Eilers Post author

    Mike: they are going for $10 plus shipping on eBay these days!

    Steve: I mentioned that in point #5, though perhaps not clearly enough. The JEEP trademark was settled in June of 1950, just before W-O began its “Willys Makes Sense” campaign (upcoming post) that emphasized the Willys brand over the ‘Jeep’ brand.

    I have wanted to document all of the history of the trademark fight, but there are a couple of events I still haven’t been able to hunt down.

    If there were restrictions on the use of ‘Jeep’, Willys-Overland seems to have ignored most of them. From 1944, when the battle of the trademarked really heated up, until 1950, W-O was plastering ‘Jeep’ on every ad and on their vehicles. If I remember correctly, one restriction during the trademark wars was the W-O couldn’t claim it invented the jeep.

  4. Dutch 1960

    Willys rolled out a car line in 1951 (1952 models). Late 1949 would have been the time frame in which W-O had finalized the decision and knew the cars would be coming. They may have been positioning the trucks and wagons to re-familiarize future car buyers with the “Willys” brand. At that point in time, everyone knew about Jeeps.

  5. Mike

    Dutch, I believe your statement is most likely the most reasonable explanation. My dad owned a 1940 Willys sedan in 1950. At that time, Willys had a terrible reputation as far as past cars were concerned, although, JEEP had a very positive image with the public. I think the Jeep made it possible for Willys to re introduce an automobile line. Hence, the connection you mentioned.

  6. E. C. SEGAR

    the jeep name is copyrighted by Fleischer studios , creators of the popeye comics , eugene the jeep first appeared in march 16 , 1936 , way before willys overland produced a small 4×4 scout car , its unclear what exactly eugene the jeep was ? a hybrid dog ? it had magical powers , able to walk through walls and made use of teleportation , I may have spotted one once high on mt shasta , near the konwakiton glacier , the jeep eats only orchids and helps popeye and olive oil solve complex problems , so there you go , willys overland stole the name JEEP .

  7. David Eilers Post author

    Vernon … copyright and trademarks are different animals. No one had trademarked the term jeep within the automotive category prior to W-O’s effort to do so. So, the company didn’t steal the trademark from anyone, except maybe Bantam, which could have possibly been called a jeep prior to the arrival at Holibird of the Willys Quad.

  8. Dan B.

    Really appreciate that Dave. It’s fascinating history. Thank you.

    Also, I don’t think they ever came that way, but IMO the W-O of the 1950-1956 gauge bezel (for the 4” speedo with the four auxiliary gauges underneath) would look cool painted with a gold W-O on the red background like the early logo. I’ve see traces of the red background, but no sign of gold.


    sorry but true , willys overland stole the jeep name just like they stole the 4×4 scout car from American bantam , this reminds me of how china or Russia operates now ? so sad …

  10. Bob in nc

    This red jeep logo- product made by Willy’s overland – would also make a nice t- shirt. Big one on back of shirt, small one on pocket.

    Could you also do a hi rise for Brian and I will get a batch of these printed up as well. How many would you like? Anybody else?

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