Two for Tuesday: Bottom Line of Art and Design

I want to take you on a rabbit trail. It seems to me that the best creative, the most interesting discoveries, often happen quite on accident. Such is the case with this Two for Tuesday.

My assignment was to write an article about art and design. And it is. But then, it’s something else too.

I sat at my computer and Googled, “Advertising as Art.” After all, it is, you know, art. Some of it is good. Some of it is bad. Like all art, it is subjective, and like all art, advertising starts with an idea. Often that idea is morphed by the client and the director, etc. Every person leaves their mark on a campaign that started with a simple idea. It is quite a fabulous collaborative process that stretches people in every way.

Our Space Ivory Soap Poster 1898So, anyway, I came across this great Adweek article from 2001 that provides the experience of walking in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. At that time, the Smithsonian had just received P&G’s “endowment” of their first color advertising for Ivory Soap (which debuted in an 1896 Cosmopolitan magazine. You can see the ad here.

The entire Smithsonian National Museum provides a feast for the eyes and mind. There is no excuse to ever be bored in life. Not if you have an iota of curiosity.

So, anyway, this made me curious about the early development of the brand. It made me wonder what made them so cutting edge then, and still maintain a loyal brand identity. As it turns out it was about integrity.

I was impressed by the genuine recognition that a brands success was in line with the quality of the product and the commitment to the consumer.

Check out Ivory’s history as a brand here. Fascinating stuff.

Immersed in my research and intrigued by the history, I then began to dig deeper (at 1:30 in the morning–sometimes that’s the only quiet time a woman can get people… But it was so worth losing sleep over). And I made a ton of discoveries…

Our Space Helen Gurley Brown 1964Who knew that Cosmopolitan dated back to 1896!? Last year’s death of Helen Gurley Brown, Cosmopolitan’s editor in chief of 32 years, was the passing of a remarkable revolutionary. She was amazingly bold and driven, even at 90… I was a teen in the 80’s when the Cosmo Girl was at her peak, when “Supermodel” was a new term and when Gurley, as it turns out, was the super role model for the Cindy Crawford, Tyra Banks and Heidi Klums of the world. Brave, innovative and dare I say shrewd, oh and they happen to be beautiful women.Look at this glimpse of Cosmos evolution.  Audrey Hepburn was once the role model as shown in that same article gracing a 1957 cover.  She had character worth reflecting as did Gurley Brown both in very different ways.  Ways that represented their culture at the time. Take a peek at the “model” gracing a more recent cover at the end of that piece.  Poor Amanda Bynes… Sincerely.  S’all I can say about that…  And grant me the rant to say it concerns me as to what we are reflecting as our culture in advertising and headlines in all the new fangled media outlets. Will Wiener be what’s remembered? OMG I hope not! But it will all at some point be, to some degree, history. Just a thought.

So, like I said, good content is about art and design. To last-–to be a brand, an influencer in the marketplace and influencer of culture-–it seemingly comes down to two things on this Two for Tuesday.

It is about innovation. And it is about integrity.
It takes both.

Cover Photo Source: Cosmopolitan, 1896
Photo Source: By P&G via Wikimedia Commons
Photo Source: By John Bottega, World Telegram staff photographer via Wikimedia Commons

Jennifer is Director of Content & Ideation at SJG. I am convinced that every human being is innately creative – Picasso said the key is to remain childlike within the body of a responsible adult, or something along those lines. As the oldest member of this opinionated clan, I feel responsible to share a different perspective. Engage me – I love a good debate!