(Roughly) Daily

“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.”*…

From the annals of advertising…

Planted in 1938, the Studebaker sign in Bendix Woods was once recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s largest living advertisement. In its prime, it contained 8,000 red and white pine trees. After 75 years with no maintenance, it has thinned out to just 2,000 but is still visible from the air.

Back in 1926, the Studebaker Corporation built what it claimed to be the first closed testing facility for an American car company. The automobile manufacturer, founded in 1852, spent more than one million dollars on the test facility, which included a three-mile circuit with a variety of special test sections including hill climbs, skid pads, snaking curves, and bumpy roads.

Naturally, if you’re going to spend a million dollars on a test circuit, you might as well invest a little more on a giant living sign made out of pine trees that’s only visible from the air, so that’s what Studebaker did…

Initially, the letters were nicely ordered, well defined and maybe even a little skinny. They were easy to read from the air, which is exactly what Studebaker intended. The sign was a salute to the growing aviation industry and a handy publicity stunt that could be seen by overflying aircraft passengers.

Over the years, of course, the pine trees grew and so did the letters. Studebaker, on the other hand, started to wither away. After years of financial problems, the company closed its last remaining production facility in 1966. Studebaker sold the land on which the trees stood to the Bendix Corporation, which donated some of the property for the creation of a county park (hence its current name: Bendix Woods County Park)…

Despite the demise of its namesake company, the Studebaker sign remained. In 1985, it was included in the National Register of Historic Places. Two years later, it first appeared in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s “largest living advertisement sign” (a record that no longer seems to exist)…

One of the world’s largest living advertisements is made out of pine trees: the “Studebaker Tree Sign,” from @atlasobscura.

* Advertising pioneer Leo Burnett


As we think big, we might recall that today is a momentous one in the histories of two other monumental messages:

On this date in 1631 Mumtaz Mahal, the beloved wife of the fifth Mughal emperorShah Jahan, died. He spent the next 17 years building her mausoleum, the Taj Mahal.


And on this date in 1885 the Statue of Liberty— a message of affection and respect from the people of France– arrived in New York Harbor.


Written by (Roughly) Daily

June 17, 2023 at 1:00 am

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