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Tuesday 26 May 2020

Olivetti's 1954 Drive into the American Market - The Lettera 22 is 'So Very Handsome Too'

Starting in The New Yorker magazine on February 27, 1954, and continuing through to December 18 that year, Olivetti really went to town with its advertising blitz for the Lettera 22 portable typewriter. The New Yorker alone ran a series of six full-page colour ads in the concerted campaign, as well as 2/3-page and smaller ads. Not satisfied with that, in May 1954 Olivetti organised its "A Sidewalk Typewriter" gimmick, with a Lettera 22 placed outside the company's new showroom on Fifth Avenue near 47th Street in New York - in the 11 months to April 1955, 50,000 people had used the machine. That was when LIFE magazine gave Olivetti and the Lettera 22 two-and-a-half pages of precious publicity. In the end, though, Adriano Olivetti decided his company needed its own plant in America, and to sell its typewriters through a name association with that great American typewriter brand, Underwood. So in 1959-60 Adriano took over Underwood, then died without realising the full extent of his American dream.
Above, some British Olivetti ads, and below, the New York showroom set-up.


Bill M said...

Wonderful collection of ads.
In the 1960s Underwood built a huge factory just outside Harrisburg, PA. It was near the end of the typewriter era though and only word processors and calculators were made there. I don't think any typewriters.

Richard P said...

I just love those candid photos.

Johnpyyc said...

I missed this post, but i had to come back and say what a wonderful typewriter the 22 is. Johnny Carson used one.

Thanks Robert.

John Parry