Monday, January 25, 2010

A "Pott" of (Old) Gold

There's a great show on CBC Radio about advertising called "The Age of Persuasion". This morning AoP host Terry O'Reilly was interviewed on another CBC Radio show called "Q". O'Reilly spoke about how advertising must give something back to the consumer - that there is an unwritten but plainly apparent "contract" between advertiser and consumer: you give us your time and attention, we promise to entertain or delight you in some way.

Here, in my mind, is an ad that honours the contract.

O'Reilly talks about how advertising creates its own predicament: "As an industry we create clutter," says O'Reilly, "and then we spend every waking moment trying to break through it." Well kudos to the ad agency that convinced Old Gold Cigarettes to produce this amazing ad back in 1944, because this ad breaks through the clutter.

This might just be the prettiest ad for cancer I've ever seen!

Advertisers and Art Directors take note: when is a pack shot a work of art? When you let an illustrator interpret it in his own unique, gorgeous style and to hell with photorealistic accuracy. I would gladly frame and hang this beautiful hand drawn cigarette pack 'still life' on my wall - and Old Gold would have

There are so many things about this ad I'd love to discuss and analyze, but most revelatory for me was the deciphering of the artist's signature. It took me a while to realize this Old Gold ad was the work of Rudy Pott.

Rudy Pott?

Unbelievable! I mean, I've been a huge fan of Rudy Pott's work for some years now, but this was Rudy Pott.

This was Rudy Pott.

This was Rudy Pott.

I've seen a lot of unsigned old ads done in this friendly, cartoony style as I've poured through my magazine collection... but I never imagined they might be the work of Rudy Pott.

(Yes folks, this is actually the kind of stuff that's gets us all hopped up and perky here at Today's Inspiration Central Command).

So that got me thinking... if that 1944 Old Gold ad was the work of Rudy Pott, then this 1947 Borden's Instant Coffee ad might just be by Rudy Pott as well.

The style is certainly very similar...

And that got me digging out my old back up CDs from the early pre-blog days of Today's Inspiration.

Could these old late '40s Duz detergent ads not also be the work of Rudy Pott?

Personally, I think they could very well be.

There's a little bit of info out there on H Rudolf Pott. He was born in 1899 in Philadelphia and attended art school there. Upon graduating in 1927 he immediately headed west, to New Mexico and Arizona, in the hopes of learning first hand the skills and subject matter that would make of him a first-rate Western artist in the tradition of Frederic Remington. Upon his return to the east Coast he discovered the market for Western artists was glutted.

Instead, Pott turned his skills to other subjects. He became a regular contributor to The Saturday Evening Post especially, as seen in the more realistic examples shown earlier above. And now we know his more humorous style was popular with advertisers as well - surely a lucrative source of income for the affable looking fellow seen here.

Rudy Pott died in 1974.

That's it for today. Hopefully I'll find out more about Rudy Pott in the future. When I do, I promise you'll be the first to know.

* My Rudy Pott Flickr set.

* You can hear Terry O'Reilly being interviewed on this "Q" podcast. The interview begins about 1/3 of the way along the time line.


  1. I loooove Rudy's work!! Definitely another craftsman I discovered through your flickr sets that I'm now koo-koo over. I just love an artist that incorporates a bit of the whimsical into their style. I suppose that often happens because they're not relying solely on their photo ref'.

    And geez! I gave up smoking in my mid 20s, but smoking something with "Apple Honey" sounds soooo good! Needless to say there was nothing even remotely resembling "apple honey" in those cigarettes.

  2. The dichotomy between the painting and the product is hilarious.

  3. Les; I'm with you brother - but I also find Rudy Pott's "straight" adventure style really appealing, much in the way I love Noel Sickles' work... or in Pott's case, I almost picture him as the painted illustration version of Milton Caniff, if you get my meaning.

  4. larry; I'm glad somebody said it! Thank you.

  5. Great Pott smoking ad! (Hey, somebody had to make that obvious joke...)

    Seriously though, I agree that advertisers should delight and entertain us, whether in print ads or TV spots. That's why I find it so exasperating that today's advertisers, particularly on TV, do not delight me, but instead assault my senses with loud inane rock music and seizure inducing quick cuts. Whatever happened to Charlie the Tuna, The Keebler Elves, and charismatic James Garner with his Polaroid camera? Likewise in print ads - why do advertisers no longer want to use appealing imagery like these samples on your blog?

  6. The dad in the picture with the dog licking te kid at the kitchen table looks like Pott was the model at least! Dead ringer.

  7. Pete; Thanks for your always thoughtful - and thought provoking comments. Regarding tv advertising these days, I do think we have to keep in mind that there are some very smart, very funny ads still being produced. For instance, in that podcast O'Reilly mentions the Mac guy/PC guy ads, which have been wonderful and had a very long run.

    But yes, you're absolutely right in general... and its my constant hope that there are many ADs checking out this blog on a regular basis and being inspired to at least try to push for clients to accept something other than the usual tired solutions.