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Advertising on Maps

In the days before online shopping, merchants needed to get customers to show up in person – and what better way to do that than use a map to locate a store or place of business!

This “Here’s where we are!” strategy, often combined with a bold arrow on the map, showed customers just where to go, and there have been a wide range of maps printed locating gas stations, restaurants, hotels, drug stores, banks, tourist attractions, and dozens of other businesses.

A second use of maps in advertising is the promotion of specific products. A tire maker or oil company publishes a giveaway map, useful not only in a very practical way but also providing a positive reinforcement for the advertiser, whose name is prominently displayed.

Since we often use maps to find our way around, companies and organizations in the transportation business have published maps to show railroad, steamship, airline, bus, and subway routes, as well as promote travel via ferries and along turnpikes, across bridges, and through particular areas.

A handful of examples will give a peek into the subject of advertising maps:

Handsome fold-out 1974 McDonald's road map and restaurant locator, printed more than 44 years ago. This map opens to 18" x 27" and locates more than 180 McDonald's restaurants in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. There are inset plans of Erie, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Reading, Scranton, Harrisburg, and Allentown-Bethlehem. The map was published by McDonald's in 1974 and is dated by the code number in the legend: 6-74. The cartography is by Rand McNally, and the territory covered is identified as Region 4 in McDonald's "Heritage Roads" series.

Fold-out 1949 Michelin tourist road map of the area between Paris and Groningen, including Brussells, Amsterdam, and Luxembourg, printed more than 69 years ago.

The cover graphics feature Bibendum — the jolly, rotund Michelin Man, first introduced in 1898 and one of the world's oldest and most recognized trademarks. He is shown running alongside a rolling tire.

The map was printed in France and distributed by Services de Tourisme Michelin, 97 Boulevard Pereire, Paris.

Handsome fold-out 1952 San Francisco pictorial map brochure, published by Crocker First National Bank more than 65 years ago.

On the back panel there's a brief history of Crocker First National Bank, from its founding in 1870 to 1952, the year this brochure was printed.

Crocker went through a number of name changes after this brochure was printed and was purchased by Wells Fargo in 1986. Except for the Wells Fargo Crocker Office Branch at One Montgomery Street in San Francisco, the Crocker name has vanished from the landscape.

Fold-out 1966 road map of Kansas City and vicinity, distributed by Cliff Brisbois Realtors Gallery of Homes more than 52 years ago.

This map is dated 1966 in the legend, and the code in the lower margin is 8-NN. Locator arrows on the map locate Brisbois Gallery of Homes offices.

There's a neat rubber-stamp imprint on the front cover: "Compliments of Hotel Muehlebach & Towers."

Vintage fold-out 1937 Shell road map of Colorado, printed more than 81 years ago.

The map was distributed by the Shell Oil Company in 1937 and is dated by the code number in the lower margin: 9-K. Population data is from the 1930 census.

On the reverse side there are maps of Rocky Mountain National Park, the Colorado Springs-Pikes Peak region, and the mountain parks west of Denver, along with a mileage chart and a radio log.

To explore more examples of advertising in maps, visit our eBay store:

Happy mapping!

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