Monday 10 September 2007

Charles Addams

The lugubrious and macabre talents of Charles Addams would not seem to be ideally suited to the demands of advertising illustration. Few products would on the face of it, benefit from an association with the Addams universe of monstrous malevolence. However, the New Yorker magazine would have been regular reading for the art directors and account executives of Madison Avenue and there’s always the temptation to assume that what goes down well in Manhattan might do likewise in Billings, Montana or Corpus Christi, Texas. Addams’s darkly humorous drawings had been published in the New Yorker since 1933 and it was the manufacturers of Lee Tires who had the imagination to employ his drawings to illustrate some of the more unusual hazards from which Lee Tires would provide protection.

Other advertisers sought to make use of Addams’s drawings to obtain some of the sophistication of the New Yorker and the examples here include a shirt manufacturer, Life Savers and Briggs Luxury Tobacco. Curiously, the Life Savers ad plays upon female insecurity about breath fragrance whilst Briggs tobacco is commended for the strength of character that will enhance the smoker and of course, the threat to breath quality is studiously ignored.

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