A Toast To The Campari Brand

By Karen Cronin | Friday, September 14, 2018 | No Comments

You might love them or hate them, or perhaps you fall somewhere in between, but there is no escaping the ubiquitous presence of brands on our shelves, on our social media feeds, and in just about every aspect our lives. Long before everything and everyone became a brand, the concept was alive and well and, yes, quite necessary.

Actually, the modern term “brand” goes all the way back to the 1500s when people began burning their mark into cattle to prove ownership. These early marks were distinctive and individual, enabling owners to identify their livestock quickly and efficiently. Today’s “marks” serve that same purpose.

In the early 19th century, brewers and vintners began burning their marks into shipping cases and crates to distinguish their goods from the competition. So while you may feel inundated with and assaulted by brands on a daily basis, it’s really nothing new.

A lot of the credit for refining and defining the brand as we know it today goes to Italian distiller Davide Campari, son of Gaspare Campari, creator of the venerable Italian liqueur. At the dawn of the 20th century – long before there was a name for it – the younger Campari understood the aspirational side of branding, the idea of associating a product with a “celebrity,” and tapping into the hopes and dreams of the consumer.

Campari sought out the hip celebrities of the day (avant-garde artists!) and chose a cutting-edge distribution channel (the poster!). Artists including Leonetto Cappiello, Marcello Dudovich, Adolf Hohenstein, and Marcello Nizzoli pushed graphic boundaries in creating the now-classic posters that helped establish the Campari brand. They were the “Mad Men” of their day.

You can read all about Campari’s groundbreaking campaigns and check out some of those posters on the website of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). The article is available here.

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