Consider the Role of Advertising as Part of Graphic Design in the 20th Century

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Introduction

Undoubtably there has been a growth in the use of graphics in the advertising industry over the past century. New communication mediums such the internet have opened the flood gate’s for new methods of advertising. Graphics have played a key role in how information is communicated through these new mediums. This paper explores the link bewteen Graphic Design as part of advertsing. The paper explores William Bernbach’s role in modern advertsing as well as considering three seperate advertisng campaign pieces from three different decade’s including Volkwagens beetle (1959) , Absolut Vodka (1980) and Apple Inc (1997).

We will explore the synergies bewteen graphics, images and text with particuler reference to graphics as a communication tool with-in the advertsing industry.

Bill Bernbach & Volkswagen
DDB (Doyle, Dane, Bernbach) was was established as an advertising agency in 1949. Over the course of the 20th and 21st century their organisation helped pave the way for a new approach to graphic design in advertising. DDB took a fresh approach to advertising products, moved away from scientific models of consumer research and injected creativity and indiviualism into an advertising campaign. William Bernbach (DDB creative Director and father of modern advertsing) warned against advertising as a science an instead offered clients a unique opportunity to represent the benifts and values of thier product through visual communication, specifically graphics and there synergy with the text. Bernbach believed, “Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make.” This puts a strong emphasis on creativity and individualism which can be seen in some of Bernbacs more famous adverts such as the “Think Small” campaign for the Volkswagen Beetle. Bernbach was a pioneer of creative techniques such as brainstorming. He also placed a keen emphasis on researching the attributes of the product they undertook. As AdAge (2005) points out, “Bernbach insisted on first learning how his client's products related to their users, what human qualities and emotions came into play.” He would then go through the creative process and express these product values through a combination of print and visual communication. The afformentioned Volkswagen campaign spearheaded by DDB in the early 1960’s broke the mould of conventional U.S advertising. Advertsing to date was overrun with characters, icons and flamboyant usually scripted text. Bernbach embraced his imagination and humour in his work to come up with advertisements that were seductive not for their flamboyancy and colour but for the use of negative space, a some what counter productive headline that lead to intrigue from the reader. This was followed by witty and informative reasons why to choose a Volkswagen.

The company took what seemed to be the small foreign cars weakness to the big ‘gas guzzlers’ of the States and turned it to its strengths with the infamous slogan ‘Think Small’. This could be reffered to as the point when ads got smart. The DDB team studied the products they were selling and tried to express the bundle of benefits though graphic design and creative advertising.

Bill Bernbach, with his infallable confidence in his own abilities managed to change graphic design from an almost assembly line approach to an intelligent more organic proccess. It is impossible to consider the role of advertising as part of graphic design with-out paying tribute to Bill Bernbach who was named No.1 on the honour role for most influential people in advertsing by Advertisng Age. (Berger, 2001, p45) summizes the sum of Bernbachs work by suggesting, “No longer could you assume that an ad was obvious and one dimensional, a mere sales pitch. Now, suddenly, there were ads with an unspoken message and complex personality; ads that were capable of engaging you in dialogue, and that challenged you to keep up with their level of...
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