The black and white photos and caption below are from Louis Cheskin’s 1967 Secrets of Marketing Success. He shows two experimental Marlboro packs, one of which has an image of a cigarette in the negative space between the “l” and the “b” of its Marlboro logo.
He calls this 1954 Marlboro cigarettes pack, the designer’s “logical pack” and then proceeds to explain why it was ultimately rejected in favor of a version with a “crest” in place of the cigarette.
As with the “modern” Wheaties packaging that Cheskin was so scathing about in the same book, I was immediately curious about this “logical” (but losing) package design.
It’s hard to really see the cigarette image in the book’s small black and white photo, but, luckily, I was able to find a color photo of the “logical” pack on Jim’s Burnt Offerings.
Initially, I was intrigued by this early forgotten example of a brand logo using the negative space between letters as a pictorial opportunity. (Similar to the celebrated FedEx logo with the arrow arrow between the “E” and the “x”)
Others have pointed out how the tall ascenders of the the “l” and the “b” suggested cigarettes rising out of the pack, but I had no idea that those same tall letters had once been used to frame a cigarette illustration in such a literal way.
We’ve already noted that Frank Gianninoto, whose company handled the graphic design for the early “red roof” Marlboro packaging, is often erroneously credited with the structural design of the flip-top box. As it turns out, the graphic design history of Marlboro’s celebrated pack is similarly muddled. (Below: a mention of Marlboro’s prize winning package design and “handsome surface design” from a 1955 issue of Billboard)
One popular version of Marlboro’s brand story is that its final package design sprang fully formed from the offices of Gianninoto Associates. Seeing these early versions of the proposed design, however, it’s clear that there were quite a few significant tweaks on the way to the final version. (Not that any package design is ever truly final.)
The test packs above both have white pinstriped chevrons in the red area, both have a Marlboro logo with an e.e. cummings style lowercase “m” and the pack with the crest, which scored better in Cheskin’s research, shows an extra-elongated “l” and “b” overlapping the crest. Everyone of these features were changed in the final version.
(More about the Marlboro “logical” pack, after the fold…) [Read more…]