A Brief History of The Car Bumper Sticker.

Custom bumper stickers have been around almost as long as car bumpers. But before there were car bumper stickers people were advertising on their horse buggies. So, the concept of using your vehicles as an advertising space has been popular for more than a hundred years.

The first car bumpers.

The earliest cars did not have bumpers. These were introduced in 1927 with the Ford Model A. Bumper stickers arrived a little while after that. Before the sticker arrived, drivers hung cardboard signs on their bumpers and held them in place with string. Obviously, cardboard signs did not stand up to inclement weather, and thus the concept of custom bumper stickers arrived. 

The first stickers.

Ray Stanton Avery created the first pressure-sensitive labels, and because of this, he is often credited with the creation of the modern-day sticker. The bumper sticker arrived shortly after Avery created the first commercial labels. Custom bumper stickers were created by Forrest P. Gill of Kansas City, Missouri. In the 1940s Gill’s “bumper strips” made from a combination of adhesive-backed paper and fluorescent paint were born.

Stickers for tourism.

Adhesive stickers first became popular in the tourism industry. While guests at resorts were visiting tourist attractions, resort staff went into the parking lot and stuck their bumper stickers on the guests’ cars.  Guests would therefore unwittingly advertise for the resort while driving back home after their trip.

Stickers for political campaigns.

Next to make use of bumper stickers was the American presidential campaign. This started as a means of political advertising during the 1952 Presidential Election. Dwight D. Eisenhower used the slogan, “I Like Ike” and it was used widely on bumper stickers during the election campaign. The same methods have been used during every American presidential campaign since that time.

Stickers develop and go digital.

In the 1950s the introduction of flexography let printers pass self-adhesive vinyl through presses which made for quicker production. This became the primary method of printing stickers until the General Press, invented by James Black in the 1960s. Thereafter this became the standard for screen printing and also the prominent method for printing stickers. In the 1990s Digital Sticker Printing was invented. This allowed you to send your digital artwork to a printer that would print your stickers. This is the most widely used method for printing stickers today.

Stickers diversify.Today bumper stickers are widely used in various industries. They remain one of the most popular forms of political advertising. They are also used by religious groups. They are widely used to make personal statements such as “baby on board” or “learner driver” to communicate a message to the car behind. They can come in all shapes and sizes and a variety of different materials. They can be humorous, and political, offer warnings, show affiliations, and even be downright rude. They are loved by some and hated by others. Regardless of how you might feel about them, custom bumper stickers are everywhere and are more than likely here to stay.