MAGAZINES ADVERTISEMENTS - 1949 - 1954 (Looking Back No.28)

There's a great enigma about Veloce's Motorcycle for Everyman. Would the firm's ground breaking water-cooled twin have sold in real volume if advertised to a winder audience? Phil Irving who sketched the L.E.'s original layout while working his second stint at Hall Green, thought it would. In the late summer of 1942 Irving composed, "what I though would be a good marketing strategy.......to advertise in the glossy magazines such as Tatler Hoofs and Horns, or the Illustrated London News."

Irvings other ideas, referred to in his autobiography, were just as interesting. They included allocating 50 machines to various dealers, “so they could be ridden to outdoor events such as the Boat Race or the Grand National to give the impression there were many more than 50 machines on the road.” His thoughts were set out in a little book, which he gave to George Denley, Veloce’s sales director. However Irving’s ideas received a poor reception, along with the telling comment, “that it was not my job to sell the machine but to design it.”

Despite this brush-off, the advertisements in this Looking Back show that Veloce did adopt at least one of Irving’s marketing tips. The final advertisement, showing a L.E. being refuelled, is from a 1949 edition of the humorous magazine Punch. The others appeared in various of Country Life between 1950 and 1954 – a magazine still famous for its depiction of grand country houses and eligible ‘girls in pearls’. George Denley once told me about his first contact with the title and their incredulity that a motorcycle manufacturer wanted to advertise with them.

How many extra orders this advertising generated is difficult to quantify. However it is well documented that the post-WWII non motorcyclist wasn’t enamoured with the oily floors and basic appearance of the UK’s average motorcycle showroom What was needed were sales through entirely new outlets; department stores, or by mail order as was common for lightweight machines sold in the USA. But in Britain, these options were out of the question. The industry’s trade association, the British Motor Cycle and Cycle Manufacturers and Traders’ Union, laid down a strict code of sales through approved agents – a practice that had served the industry well since its early days. Veloce was a loyal supporter of the Union, with Denley for many years a member of its executive committee.

While Veloce did take on a number of new agents post WWII – no doubt in an effort to broaden sales of the L.E. model – almost all were existing cycle or motorcycle dealers.

This kind of wider advertising ceased after George Denley's retirement in 1956.

 

Dennis Frost

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