WW2 Studebaker Ads

During World War II, Studebaker hired a well-known illustrator and advertising artist by the name of Robert Oliver Skemp to illustrate some advertisements featuring Studebaker employees and their children who were serving in the American armed forces. You may have seen these before as they were very well done and there are still many copies floating around.

This one spotlighted what the ad referred to as “lieutenant, corporal and craftsman,” with the craftsman being Studebaker employee Tom Hinkle who built Cyclone engines for the Boeing Flying Fortress . His son, George, was an air force lieutenant stationed in India and another son, Bill, was a Coast Artillery Corporal stationed in the Fijis.

This advertisement starred Studebaker employee Joe Balaban, who was also wrenching on the Cyclone engines, and his son, Seabee Mike Balaban.

This ad campaign was based on actual people and not just the imagination of some copywriter. In 1944, the Tipton Daily Tribune published a story letting the people of Tipton know that this ad featuring local heroes, the Hinkles, was scheduled to appear in the inside front cover of the June issue of Life Magazine. It noted that Tom had been with Studebaker for 23 years and that both sons had also worked for the company before joining the service. In 1945, the South Bend Tribune likewise included an article on the Balabans. Joe was a 26-year veteran of Studebaker and also had two other children in the service. A daughter, Mary, was a WAVE parachute rigger first class and another son, Eli, was a chief shipfitter in the navy. Because of this ad, a publication of the 99th battalion called Mike Balaban one of the most publicized seabees in the world.

This was a great advertising campaign featuring real people, beautiful artwork and Studbaker’s contribution to the war effort. In addition to the Cyclone engines, Studebaker also built military trucks and and the M-29/M29C Weasel, a tracked personnel and supply carrier like this one at the Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles in Lexington, Nebraska: