Lois’s Big Break in Magazines
What makes the perfect magazine cover? Just ask George Lois, the brain behind 92 iconic covers for Esquire magazine, many of which are now in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. Lois credits his successful creative endeavors to his “big ideas” and rebellious nature. Here he shares how a high-stakes boxing match helped him get his big break in magazines.
Think Small: Volkswagen Ad a Favorite
Of the many ads he worked on in the 1960s, Lois says Volkswagen was among the top. The line “Think small” was created by his partner Julian Koenig, and from there, “the ad took on a life of its own.” Lois also calls the campaign a “startling success” because it helped the automaker sell a “Nazi car in a Jewish town” just 14 years after World War II.
Technology: A Destroyer of Creativity
When George Lois was ruling the world of adverting, computers weren’t even a thought. Now technology and advertising go hand in hand. While Lois agrees that the introduction of computers allowed people to do work twice as fast, it also had its setbacks. “It’s almost as if creativity is dead,” he said. “The visual power of advertising was everywhere—now it’s basically gone.”
Every ending is a new beginning. In 1960 Lois started Papert Koenig Lois, an agency with few resources but which quickly gained momentum and landed many notable accounts. Lois talks about his ad for the cough medicine Coldene, which he and his partners released just a couple of weeks after starting their new firm. Only Lois could make an ad with no photographs and no logo a big success.