Missing Links
Deconstructing Creativity
in Communication

Wilfried Korfmacher, University of Applied Science, Düsseldorf, Germany

Communication and design both evoke interactive behaviour and thus can lead to constructive misunderstanding – in order to provoke new interactive behaviour. For example, the seminar’s characterising phrase of Dirk Baecker “Doing things together” is in German, “gemeinsame Sache machen”. Another translator from German into English could also translate it into “making common cause with someone”. The same goes for the translation of my office called “Zeichen-verkehr”, meaning “sign traffic” in English. It stands for interpreting design as a creative process of communication in contrast to the classical static “traffic sign” paradigm.

Christian Morgenstern, poem: “The evening song of the fishes”

Lucky Strike ad: “The most important news today is not in this ad, but sitting in front of it. Good morning.” – “You. No one else.” (instead of: nothing else)
The Lucky Strike advertisement can only be empty because it is part of a campaign that has been committed to a very strict creative concept for years and with a host of motifs: to compare the metaphorically excessive advertising world of the competition – the big, wide world of Peter Stuyvesant, the Wild West of Marlboro Country, the fantastic tropics of Camel Trophy – with the existential realism of the bare pack shot.

Lucky Strike ad: “Stop the thief!” – “Lucky Strike. Nothing else.”
A regular poster display. All that’s left for the text is to shout after the runaway. In the end, it is the idea of a visual extirpation, at best. That is more radical than the decollage. This shows respect for a factor of advertising communication that at any other time is usually tacitly presumed – in the true sense of the word: the recipient.

Lucky Strike ad: “Here, a cigarette is casually leaning against its box. And nothing else.” – “Lucky Strike. Nothing else.”
Instead of penetrating illusionary dreams, the Lucky Strike campaign stimulates nothing but the imagination of those looking at the advertisements and posters by way of plays with words and images that just about comply with the first rule of advertising: to maintain the simple presence of the medium.

The advertisement in which “a cigarette casually leans against a box”, “nothing else”, is the first motif of the series that also, at the same time, reveals the whole concept of the campaign. It caricatures in elementary form the unwritten law of the creative world, never to have the image be the exact illustration of the text (i.e. not to say anything in the text that the image does not show already). Naturally, when the copywriter breaks this allegorical taboo, he or she does so not without an underlying meaning. And of course, no text can exactly express what an image says with “more than a thousand words”.

The fact alone that the cigarette is “casually” leaning against its box adds an ironical attitude to the headline of the visual production. This appeals to smokers finding themselves in the aesthetics of the classic modern age. Lucky is cool. And less is more. Did Mies van der Rohe actually smoke? What was Loos’s attitude towards nicotine? If nothing else, the cigarette in the hand of the smoker represents a very ornamental sign. And Sullivan? Surely he must have liked the taste of such a functional form of seduction. By the way, the packaging design of Lucky is from Loewy.

Time and again, the Lucky Strike motifs vary the question of appearance and reality – of advertising reality and actual reality. “Happy” smokers should be addicted to their Luckies such that the image alone is taken at face value.

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Design Management
VIZO Workshop

“Design makes the Difference”
Brussels, Belgium - 29/30 November 2002

  • Prof. Wilfried Korfmacher, University of Applied Science, Düsserdolf, Germany
    Missing Links - Deconstructing Creativity in Communication 
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