Cordial Campari and the art of illustration

Cordial Campari, illustrazioni pubblicitarie - advertisement illustrations

Pat, 1909

Davide Campari was a great Milanese entrepreneur who led the homonymous beverage company from 1882 to 1936. Ad man and art critic Dino Villani (1898-1989) has written about him:

“It would be pointless to search for a stylistic strategy in Campari advertisement, in terms of graphics or taste. Campari worked with artists with the most different character and most various themes; he had copy jotted down by nobodies or written by famous authors, making them almost compete to bring out the features of Bitter and Cordial Campari in different – or better yet, new – ways.”

“No one ever pulled back from this ongoing competition, because by then working for Campari had come to be considered an honor.”

“The form of expression was relevant if it was somehow unique, but that was not enough. Campari was obviously eager to accept the most daring innovations because they would increase his advertisement’s power of attraction, pulling the audience away from competitors’. But he wanted more: he wanted advertisement to never forget to put the most important thing in front. We believe few have been able to leverage labels, the shape and distinctive features of a bottle, packaging graphics and colors and product quality as effectively as Campari did […].”

“Open to all artists’ ideas, he could have easily derailed into art for art’s sake, mere shock value, amusement with the sole purpose of making people smile, to be remembered in an original way and to arouse curiosity and congeniality. What avoided such ‘derailing’ was he felt all that was just a means for something else: an extensive means to reach everyone, to get everyone talking about Campari – men of culture and artists as well as lower class people, aware and distracted, young and old, men and women” (translated from G. Cenzato, “Campari, 1860-1960”, Edizioni Campari, Milan 1960).

Now here is what everyone was looking at, when they were talking about Cordial Campari.

February 12, 2016