6 minutes read

Snack Podcast – George Lois

In today’s episode, we are going to talk about a controversial advertising figure. 

His name is George Lois and he is responsible for MTV’s and Xerox’s success. There are a few things that you can learn from Lois, perseverance is one of them.

The advertiser shout strive to create something truly memorable because the lack of audacity, is the constituent element of mediocrity.

Enjoy.

 

Script: 

He was born and raised in Bronx, New York in June 1931, by his Greek immigrants parents. He attended Pratt Institute(which is also the college where Paul Rand studied) for only one year when he dropped out and went to work for Reba Sochis.

After six months he was drafted into the army to fight in the Korean War. When the war ended, he worked for the advertising and promotions department at CBS where he designed print and media projects.

This ended shortly due to a job offer he received from Papert Koenig Lois in 1960. In 1967, he left to form Lois Holland Callaway. His last agency, Lois/USA, which created memorable campaigns for clients such as Minolta, Tourneau and The Four Seasons, ended its run in 1999.During his career, he successfully designed and implemented powerful ad campaigns. Xerox, Tommy Hilfiger, ESPN, and MTV are just a few companies that choose Lois to promote their brand. George Lois was the type of advertiser that accepted any challenge. He often took a failing brand and transformed it into a worldwide success.

During his career, he successfully designed and implemented powerful ad campaigns. Xerox, Tommy Hilfiger, ESPN, and MTV are just a few companies that choose Lois to promote their brand. George Lois was the type of advertiser that accepted any challenge. He often took a failing brand and transformed it into a worldwide success.

MTV was one of these marketing miracles. Everyone was skeptical when the MTV founders first presented the idea. It soon became a complete failure. A 24-hour rock ‘n’ roll channel didn’t seem a good idea at first.

Music publishers, record companies, advertisers and cable operators all doubted MTV’s success. After a year of failing, they asked George Lois to change everyone’s mind through an ad campaign, and he did that, sort of. “I had a better idea, the Big Idea: to go right to the rock-loving audience and shove MTV down the rock-hating cable operators’ thoughts”. His “I want my MTV” went viral within minutes after the commercial was displayed on the TV.

His “I want my MTV” went viral within minutes after the commercial was displayed on the TV.

Another great success was Xerox. The process of Xerography was invented in 1938 by Chester Carlson, who made his huge discovery in isolation and gave it to more than 20 influential corporations among them IBM, General Electric, and RCA. The loathsome No-Men of Corporate America turned him down, missing the opportunity to produce what Fortune magazine would recognize as “the most successful product ever manufactured in America.” In the early sixties, Carlson made a deal with the Haloid Company, a small photographic-supply company and produced the Haloid Xerox 914.

The process of Xerography was invented in 1938 by Chester Carlson, who made his huge discovery in isolation and gave it to more than 20 influential corporations among them IBM, General Electric, and RCA. The loathsome No-Men of Corporate America turned him down, missing the opportunity to produce what Fortune magazine would recognize as “the most successful product ever manufactured in America.” In the early sixties, Carlson made a deal with the Haloid Company, a small photographic-supply company and produced the Haloid Xerox 914.

The loathsome No-Men of Corporate America turned him down, missing the opportunity to produce what Fortune magazine would recognize as “the most successful product ever manufactured in America.” In the early sixties, Carlson made a deal with the Haloid Company, a small photographic-supply company and produced the Haloid Xerox 914.

In 1960, while George still worked for Papert Koenig Lois, he started working with Haloid-Xerox. Lois told Carson that he could make his incredible new product popular and prestigious overnight if he would let him do a classy presentation on TV.This process started with changing the company’s name from Haloid-Xerox to Xerox. The very first commercial they made, aimed at a mere 5000 purchasing agents. The commercial began showing a little girl visiting his father’s office, where she ran off a Xerox copy for him and ended with the puzzled dad unable to figure out which one was the original. This was a fantastic ad but slightly controversial. The Federal Trade Commission found the ad deceiving and ordered to stop displaying it. George’s response was priceless.

He immediately rescheduled another shoot where they used a chimpanzee instead of the girl. The chimp lifted the Xerox pad, placed the original in place, pressed the right buttons and took the copy to the same actor who played the father’s role in the first place.

This process started with changing the company’s name from Haloid-Xerox to Xerox. The very first commercial they made, aimed at a mere 5000 purchasing agents. The commercial began showing a little girl visiting his father’s office, where she ran off a Xerox copy for him and ended with the puzzled dad unable to figure out which one was the original. This was a fantastic ad but slightly controversial. The Federal Trade Commission found the ad deceiving and ordered to stop displaying it. George’s response was priceless. He immediately rescheduled another shoot where they used a chimpanzee instead of the girl. The chimp lifted the Xerox pad, placed the original in place, pressed the right buttons and took the copy to the same actor who played the father’s role in the first place.

The commercial began showing a little girl visiting his father’s office, where she ran off a Xerox copy for him and ended with the puzzled dad unable to figure out which one was the original. This was a fantastic ad but slightly controversial. The Federal Trade Commission found the ad deceiving and ordered to stop displaying it. George’s response was priceless. He immediately rescheduled another shoot where they used a chimpanzee instead of the girl. The chimp lifted the Xerox pad, placed the original in place, pressed the right buttons and took the copy to the same actor who played the father’s role in the first place.

The Federal Trade Commission found the ad deceiving and ordered to stop displaying it. George’s response was priceless. He immediately rescheduled another shoot where they used a chimpanzee instead of the girl. The chimp lifted the Xerox pad, placed the original in place, pressed the right buttons and took the copy to the same actor who played the father’s role in the first place.

George’s response was priceless. He immediately rescheduled another shoot where they used a chimpanzee instead of the girl. The chimp lifted the Xerox pad, placed the original in place, pressed the right buttons and took the copy to the same actor who played the father’s role in the first place.

The chimp lifted the Xerox pad, placed the original in place, pressed the right buttons and took the copy to the same actor who played the father’s role in the first place.

Thanks to this ad, the ten years objectives were accomplished in six months and the Xerox culture evolved.

Altho George is one of the most successful creative advertisers of the 20th centuries; there is also some controversy regarding his work. He was accused multiple times of taking credit for other’s ideas or for exaggerating his participation.

Some of the accusations were true. As the New York Times revealed in 2008, George Lois didn’t create the Volkswagen’s “Think Small” campaign or the “I want my Maypo” campaign which he claimed he did. His former associate also claimed that Lois took credit for ad campaigns and ad copy that he didn’t create.

Here is what Julian Koenig, his former associate stated in an interview. “In my instance, the greatest predator of my work was my one-time partner George Lois, who is a most heralded and talented art director/designer, and his talent is only exceeded by his omnivorous ego. So where it once would’ve been accepted that the word would be ‘we’ did it, regardless of who originated the work, the word ‘we’ evaporated from George’s vocabulary and it became ‘my.'”

So where it once would’ve been accepted that the word would be ‘we’ did it, regardless of who originated the work, the word ‘we’ evaporated from George’s vocabulary and it became ‘my.'”

Although his life and work were controversial, he remains a legendary ad man. In his lifetime, he received noticeable awards that prove he deserves his place between other advertising legends like Ogilvy. Lois is the only person in the world to be featured in “The Art Directors Hall of Fame, The One Club Creative Hall of Fame” with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Institute of Graphic Arts and the Society of Publication Designers.

In his lifetime, he received noticeable awards that prove he deserves his place between other advertising legends like Ogilvy.

Lois is the only person in the world to be featured in “The Art Directors Hall of Fame, The One Club Creative Hall of Fame” with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Institute of Graphic Arts and the Society of Publication Designers as well as a subject of the Master Series at the School of Visual Arts.

I’m gonna leave you with this George Lois quote:

“The more creative you are, the more trouble you’re in. You have to be courageous.” 

If you want to find out more about his work, his life and his creative approach on advertising you can read his books or his autobiography.

Andrei Florea

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