PLANNING AN ADVERTISEMENT OF
T YP O GR A PHIC EXCELLENCE
BY STUART CAMPBELL
"Good advertisements are not born; they
I do not know where I saw this axiom, but
it is certainly true of the advertisement which
won the 1929 Harvard award for effective use
To the casual glance, the typography in this
advertisement on the following pages would
seem to consist of good old Caslon, put
together with simplicity and directness.
However, that is not quite sufficient to ex
plain the effect. In fact, to explain any
thoughtful advertising arrangement in terms
of its typography is no more helpful than ex
plaining a spring ensemble in terms of its hat.
This advertisement began as a piece of
copy. The copy, lead, and headline were in
spired by and deliberately built around a fas
cinating old print.
The layout, as such, did not enter until the
copy was a fairly finished product. Since all
the elements of attention and interest lay with
in the story itself, the function of layout was
reduced to one objective, namely, presentation
of the story. That immediately dictated a
typographical rather than an illustrative treat
In the same breath, of course, one thought
of old Caslon. Of all type faces, it most hap
pily combines the flavor of Paul Revere's age
with the spirit of today.
But how use this old Caslon? In other
words, how construct the advertisement. The
problems soon resolved themselves into these
1. To give the narrative a real story flavor.
2. To make it attractively readable.
3. To make it simple, straightforward, al
most naive, and thus let its "pure gold" shine in
contrast to the usually empty copy of "tricky"
At the outset, therefore, the two pages
were planned as reading or story pagesof
magazine-like makeup. In order to bring in
a prominent logotype without destroying this
flavor, the cut-off rule was adopted.
Next, it had to be remembered that the ad
vertisement was only one double spread in
77fe Saturday Evening Post's well-filled
pages. It was necessary to give this bookish
treatment a considerable "punch" of its own.
Therefore, the words "The Smoke" in 72-
point Caslon and the large amount of space
given up to the headline.
The subhead was dropped to 14-point, in
order to make an easy transition to the text.
The text then followed in 14-point Old Caslon
opened up with 6-point leading. In order to
break the rather long story into easily grasped
chunks, it was broken up into small chapters,
each with its bold-face caption.
After this specification was arrived at, after
the copy and subheads were carefully adjusted
to "break right," the entire advertisement was
set in type, with holes for illustrations care
fully plotted to spot the pages. The artist
put his sketches right on the type proof. Thus
both the size and the tone of the illustrations
were blended into the text.
This Harvard Award advertisement was in
no way an inspiration, but wholly the pains
takingly worked out answer to a clearly con