Armando Testa (1917-1992) invented “Re Carpano” after the Second World War, when he started working for important Italian brands like Pirelli, Borsalino, Martini&Rossi… and Carpano, of course, the historical vermouth distillery founded in 1786 in Testa’s hometown, Turin, by the famous aperitif’s inventor, Antonio Benedetto Carpano (1764-1815).
The king immortalized in these posters is a character from “advertisement’s carnival-like tradition”, which according to expert Ave Appiano, “in Italy in the 1940s had a comeback with Armando Testa, who as an artist and creative was particularly sensitive to the newfound and increasingly popular interest for comedy.”
Appiano adds, Testa “created a series of advertisement posters by manipulating with masterful alchemy the rhetorical ingredients of personification and paradox, as well as some deriving from the artificial and burlesque world of disguise, so full of ideas, colors, and shapes.”
“Testa started playing with characters that bore no direct reference to the product, and threw them on the white background of the poster with the sheer power of their color and simple outline. Thus, in a country that was gathering its economic and cultural strength, his campaigns for Carpano and Punt e Mes appeared with products – vermouths – personified like kings making a toast with Victor Emanuel, Cavour, Napoleon, and Giuseppe Verdi. It all conveyed the rituality of special events, which the product wanted to be associated with” (translated from A. Appiano, “Manuale di immagine”, Meltemi, Rome 1998).
All hail the king of advertisement.