Tuesday 26 June 2007

The world of Caffè Lavazza

The contemporary world of Lavazza promotion is an alien environment of slick, glossy, high-style publicity. The Lavazza calendar is a playground for art directors and fashion photographers where their passion for adolescent surrealism and soft porn can be indulged to the full. Anything goes so long as sex, fashion and coffee are linked together. Long suffering models protect their modesty with teaspoons, coffee cups and filter papers while photographers prowl in search of the perfect image. Despite all the effort and attention to detail the final results are distinctly cheesy. See for yourself by clicking here.

Lavazza in the 1950’s presented a much more comforting image to potential customers. Collectors’ cards were included in every pack to engage the interest of the young and this set was issued in 1954 to commemorate 60 years of Lavazza coffee. It is always instructive to see how companies celebrate their existence and this is a particularly interesting example. In these times historical and traditional links were much valued so the first card features the founding father and the very first premises. The message is, from these humble origins our great empire grew.

Cards number 2 and 3 illustrate production and packing. Automation, technology and hygiene are the order of the day. All surfaces are polished and buffed to a perfect sheen under cool fluorescent lighting. There is a pride in showing what is behind the scenes that seems anachronistic today. A present day audience would be unimpressed by images of the manufacturing process.

Card number 4 displays the product range in both domestic and catering packs. The mid-century graphics are distinctive and bold. The graphic style seems nicely poised between pre-war decorative complexity and the pared down geometry of the 1960’s. The pack shots are lovingly rendered with a hyper-realist eye. The next card is a real treat. Barring a few landmarks, all traces of the world unconnected with Lavazza have been removed to enable free passage for the fleet of vans and trucks distributing the product throughout the land. This is a capitalist utopia – no obstacles to progress and no competition.

The final card portrays sixty years of coffee preparation and serving. Smoothly modelled forms show progress from the simple saucepan of 1894 to the gleaming reflective machine of 1954 complete with juke-box styling. These images all have great charm which springs in part from the rendering technique but also from the absence of a hard-sell. There are no comparisons with rival brands and no images of happy and contented consumers, nothing about value for money and no life style associations. It would be fascinating to learn the fate of the original artwork for these cards. Any information much appreciated. Please click on the images to see enlargements.

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