On left: early S.O.S box design (from a vintage ad for sale on eBay); center: an ad from AdClassix.com featuring the elusive 1959 box design pictured in the “Kitchen Debate” photo; on right: a somewhat vintage box, which still resembles current S.O.S packaging (from NY Times The Moment blog)
Success! Well, sort of…
Last Friday, Richard Shear and I coincidentally put up two, very similar posts on our respective packaging blogs. His post, “S.O.S saves the Western World” and my post, “S.O.S at the 1959 Kitchen Debate” were both inspired by that day’s NY Times editorial page and both featured William Safire’s famous black & white photo of Nixon and Khrushchev talking in front of a simulated “typical American” kitchen. In each of our posts, we naturally focused on the very graphic looking S.O.S box, but neither of us had managed to find any other photos of the box.
Yesterday I spent even more time looking and, as a testament to the depth and breadth of my obsessive-compulsive ways, I finally turned up some vintage ads with color illustrations of this apparently rare version of the box. Still don’t know who (or what agency) might have designed it. (I’m thinking maybe: Sterling Cooper?)
from Way Back Vintage Ads
(A few more S.O.S ads, after the fold…)
A 1957 ad from Mr. Beaverhousen’s Flickr Photostream (2 years prior to the “new” 1959 package design)
A 1959 ad from Arts Enthusiast’s Flickr Photostream
A 1980s S.O.S box design from Joad Henry’s Flickr Photostream
Regarding the periods in the S.O.S logo:
The acronym, S.O.S., is the famous distress signal and could not be trademarked. By removing the last period, the name was unique and could then be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Beach Packaging Design