While this is an excellent concept in theory, we do NOT condone the use of images which could be perceived as racist. This project was from the early 1970s -- a knock-off of an actual soap box from the 1800s -- and utilizes images that should never have been used. The concept of an "object" -- like this "soap box" -- as promotional vehicle is the reason for this article, NOT the literal images used. ALWAYS be very careful to utilize images that will not offend any segment of the population.
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When is a self-prmotion much more than a self promotion?
... let the boys do your work
Back in the 1970s if it was the hottest design and illustration showing up on Madison Avenue -- in the pages of the New York Art Director's Annual or virtually any publication or packaging, chances are it came from the Mabey Trousdell studios in Atlanta Georgia. This extraordinary studio employed some of the brightest and most talented designers and illustrators in the industry. They captivated readers with stunning imagery all produced with brush, pencils and quill. They won all the major awards and even earned top-brass representation in powerful advertising hubs like Cullen Rapp in New York and John Ball in Chicago.
So I packed my bags and portfolio and booked a Jet airliner for Atlanta. As a fresh graduate of VCU in design and illustration, I wanted a job at Mabey Trousdell studio in the worst kind of way. Obviously I didn't get the job -- their talents and industry savvy way out-ranked my own -- so I came on home with nothing to show but this box.
Remarkably, the "Soft Soap" promotion box has stuck with me all these years, even though faded, tattered and torn. It reminds me of the quality work of Mabey Trousdell and has stood the test of time for containing all the most important ingredients for a self-promotion...
Unusual, Memorable Delivery
The box says it all. This is an unusual package to receive in a direct mailing, and you'll find that most any 3D promotional package will stick around. Originally this package was bright orange and the graphics were inspired by (borrowed) the proverbial "detergent" box of the late 1800s. It's a fairly standard die, available at most chip and set-up box manufacturer. (See layout, sorry I had to scan it in pieces - didn't want to flatten it.)
The right storyline
With the "soap" theme the studio was able to work in all the desirable sales points to convince the reader to inquire further. Besides being a fun thing to hold, from all angles there was a "soft" pitch going on. "The Many Purpose Studio" and "Designing Power" were both kitchey and effective in the tie-in with soap powder. But they also spoke clearly to the studio's worth. Then, each cartoon is captioned with important selling points, like "Works Quickly", "Duz the Whole Job" and "Wins Awards." All, important concepts to art directors.
The little drawings are so representative of the period art -- yet carefully created to tell the story. Both humorous and serious, the cartoons spell out all the aspects of the services provided by the studio. They really didn't have to go into specifics, the carefully concieved and positioned cartoons tapped into the top priorities of any art or creative director.
Clear, Concise Call to ActionFinally, on the back, we see the full-panel ad for reps Ball and Rapp along with Mabey/Trousdell's own address and phone. Most importantly, the headlines "Let the boys do your work," and "How to use Mabey, Trousdell." You can't be any more clear than that.
Next time you're planning a promotional, think of these four most important elements. If you design carefully, the reader will get the message quickly and memorably. If you build it well, they'll come.
1. Unique and Memorable Delivery
2. Easily to read, understandable story line
3. Imaginative and carefully deployed graphics and art
4. Compelling call to action and contact.
So there you have it. One case where real talent brought out a low-budget, high-yield promotion that would stand the test of time.
Until next time... keep on learning
Fred Showker, Editor/Publisher
I'd love to hear about your educational experiences, and favorite printing projects. Please drop me a line and let's share with all DT&G readers!
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